Lionesses prepare to take on the Matildas after defeating Colombia

Right back to training! Lionesses prepare to take on the Matildas after defeating Colombia as millions now prepare to watch England’s women battle for World Cup Final place against Australia

  • England were back in training today following yesterday’s win against Colombia
  • At 11am on Wednesday, they will take on Australia on their own turf in Sydney 

The Lionesses were straight back into training today ahead of their semi-final match against Australia on Wednesday, when the nation will grind to a halt at 11am to watch them take on the World Cup hosts.

England’s team were seen in a training session on Sunday at the Central Coast Stadium in Gosford. 

England roared to victory yesterday in a tough 2-1 match against Colombia in their quarter-final, cheered on from afar by the Prince and Princess of Wales and David Beckham.

And the prize awaiting them this week, if they can beat the hosts on their own turf in Sydney, is the big one – a place in the World Cup final against Sweden or Spain.

Millions are expected to tune in on BBC One to cheer on the Lionesses as they aim to replicate last year’s historic success at the Euros. 

The time difference has meant that games are generally being screened early in the morning, but the mid-morning slot means pubs are anticipating big crowds. The 87,000 Aussies living in the UK are also expected to be out in force.

The Lionesses were already back in the training ground on Sunday ahead of their semi-final match on Wednesday

Hannah Hampton making a save during the training session

England’s World Cup team were seen training at the Central Coast Stadium in Gosford on Sunday 

GET IN THERE: Alessia Russo celebrates her winning goal

AUSSIES RULE: Sam Kerr, left, celebrates the win over France yesterday

Friends who will be enemies for one day 

Lionesses will be hoping that Sam Kerr, Australia’s star striker and captain, is sidelined by her niggling calf injury when the two sides meet in the World Cup semi-final in Sydney on Wednesday.

If she does start, there are a lot of England players who know exactly what to expect – for as well as being a key player for the Matildas, she also plays for Chelsea.

Kerr plays alongside Millie Bright, Fran Kirby, Lauren James and Jess Carter for the Women’s Super League side.

She is a close friend of Bright and regularly posts pictures of the two of them on Instagram.

And the familiar faces don’t stop there. Two of Australia’s star players line up with England’s Alessia Russo at Arsenal.

Caitlin Foord and Steph Catley are based in England and are close friends with Russo, England squad member Jordan Nobbs and injured striking sensation Beth Mead.

Foord was recently on holiday in Ibiza with Nobbs.

Australians Alanna Kennedy, Mary Fowler and Hayley Raso also play for Manchester City with the likes of Chloe Kelly, Alex Greenwood and Lauren Hemp.

They coined their official nickname The Matildas in 1995 from the Australian folk song Waltzing Matilda but before that they were known as the Female Socceroos.

The team is managed by Swedish former professional footballer and manager Tony Gustavsson. He has been in charge since 2020 after several years as an assistant coach for the US women’s team.

With the Matildas ranked No 10 in the world compared to England’s No 4, the Lionesses are favourites on paper to win the clash – although the home crowd at Stadium Australia will be doing their best to disrupt that expectation.

‘We know if we play at our best, we are unstoppable,’ said England striker Lauren Hemp, who scored the first goal against Colombia.

Despite numerous England fans in the stands waving banners with the words ‘It’s coming home’ emblazoned across them, it was a shaky start for the Lionesses.

The Coffee Girls from Colombia took a 1-0 lead after England goalkeeper ‘Magic’ Mary Earps was beaten by a lob from Leicy Santos shortly before half-time.

Hemp’s equaliser came seven minutes later in injury time at the end of the first half, when Colombia goalkeeper Catalina Perez fumbled the ball in the six-yard area.

But the team eventually came out on top after Alessia Russo scored the winner.

After pouncing on a through ball from Georgia Stanway that ricocheted off a Colombia defender and into her path, Russo shot into the bottom corner of the goal, leaving keeper Perez no chance.

As Arsenal striker Russo, who had scored only once in the team’s four tournament matches ahead of yesterday’s quarter-final, said after the game: ‘This team always finds a way.’

Coach Sarina Wiegman acknowledged that the Colombians were tricky, describing the game afterwards as a ‘very tough challenge’.

She said the second half was ‘hard’ against such a difficult team, but continued: ‘I am so proud of the team . . . if we had [been better] we could have finished up the game a little earlier.’

After the victory, England players – including superstar striker Chloe Kelly and midfielder Alex Greenwood – could be seen consoling some of the devastated young Colombians and swapping shirts with them.

But the ecstatic team went on to celebrate on the pitch as pundit and former player Ian Wright, a champion of women’s football, embraced a joyful Hemp.

He later kissed her as the celebrations went into full swing.

He wasn’t the only celebrity to speak of their pride at the Lionesses’ win. The Prince and Princess of Wales, both big sports fans, took to Twitter to congratulate the team for their epic win, writing from their official account: ‘Bring on the semi-finals! A hard-fought win, well done @Lionesses.’

WE CAN DO THIS: England’s Alessia Russo is swamped by jubilant teammates after scoring the winning goal in the 63rd minute yesterday

WINNING FORMULA: A fan in the stands holds up a homemade sign

HUGE HUG: England’s Lauren Hemp is embraced by pundit Ian Wright after the Women’s World Cup quarterfinal soccer match

SOLACE: Linda Caicedo of Colombia is consoled by Alex Greenwood of England after the match

England coach Sarina Wiegman celebrates the team’s 2-1 victory against Colombia

Beckham, who watched the match in the early hours of the morning while spending the summer in Miami, took to Instagram to tell of his joy.

He also posted a clapping hands emoji for Russo, who has become a close friend. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also joined in the celebratory party, writing on social media: ‘Great team effort from the @Lionesses. Resilient performance. All eyes on the semi-final now . . . It’s coming home.’

The Lionesses may take hope from the fact that Australia’s journey to the semi-final has been rather more stressful.

Their quarter-final match against France was still locked at nil-all after extra time. The Matildas eventually won a heart-stopping penalty shootout 7-6.

One person who will be desperately hoping that England beat Australia in the semi-final is Lauren James, who was sent off in the game against Nigeria last week for stamping on a rival player.

She was banned for two games, which means that she will be eligible to play against Sweden or Spain if England reach the final.


STYLISH: Laura Woods yesterday

As the new face of ITV’s women’s World Cup football, Laura Woods has been lauded for her knowledge of the sport.

But fans have been admiring her fashion choices too. And, unlike many other television hosts, she doesn’t break the bank when it comes to her style.

Yesterday Ms Woods, 36, opted for a hot-pink short-sleeved suit by French label Elli White – which cost less than £100. She wore the same style but in blue two weeks ago as she hosted the Lionesses’ 1-0 win over Denmark.

To host Colombia’s last-16 win against Jamaica, she opted for a cream and pink stripe suit by Forever Unique. The jacket has been reduced from £80 to £40 while the wide leg trousers went down from £70 to £35.

Ms Woods also left fans swooning during England’s final Group D game against China last week when she wore a white Karen Millen bodice with a pair of tan Stradivarius trousers which can be bought on Asos for just £29.99.

She showed off a bargain co-ord by London-based label Serena Bute, with the trousers being on sale for £135 down from £385 while the top was also £135.

She has also worn a £95 navy Reiss dress, as well as recycling a cream blouse from High Street chain & Other Stories she has ‘had for years’ and Joseph leather trousers which are five years old.

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