England players celebrate taking the lead in their semifinal against Australia. Izhar Khan/AFP/Getty Images CNN —
No matter what happened in Wednesday’s semifinal, history was going to be made one way or another inside Stadium Australia.
Neither Australia nor England had ever reached a Women’s World Cup final and it was the latter’s aspirations which were realized in the end.
The Lionesses looked brilliant against the co-host and fully deserved their 3-1 victory, setting up a title-deciding clash against Spain in the process.
Although reaching a World Cup final was new ground for all the England players, it was familiar territory for their head coach.
Sarina Wiegman is a specialist in major tournament success and is now the first coach, male or female, to reach a World Cup final with two different nations having already done so with the Netherlands in 2019.
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – AUGUST 15: Salma Paralluelo of Spain celebrates after scoring her team’s first goal during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Semi Final match between Spain and Sweden at Eden Park on August 15, 2023 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images) Phil Walter/Getty Images
It’s not just at the World Cup that Wiegman has enjoyed success. The 53-year-old also led the Netherlands and England to European Championships glory in 2017 and 2022 respectively.
When asked how she felt about building on her already remarkable record, Wiegman said it felt like she was “in the middle of a fairytale.”
“I can hardly describe how proud I am of the team, they’ve adapted before the tournament, during the tournament and now in this game again. How we came through and found a way to win again, it’s so incredible,” she told reporters.
“This team has ruthlessness. Whether it’s up front or in defense, we really want to keep the ball out of the net, we really want to win and we stick together and we stick to the plan, and it worked again.”
England players celebrate after their 3-1 victory over Australia booked a spot in the Women’s World Cup final. They will play Spain on Sunday. Hannah Mckay/Reuters Australian star Sam Kerr did everything she could to carry the Matildas, but it wasn’t enough as her team fell 3-1 to England in the semifinals. The Aussies now have the chance to win a bronze medal in the third-place playoff on Saturday. Maddie Meyer/FIFA/Getty Images Australia fans react in the stadium as their team falls behind late in the semifinal. Carl Recine/Reuters England’s Alessia Russo celebrates scoring the Lionesses’ third goal to seal the victory against Australia. Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters English goalkeeper Mary Earps dives in vain to stop Kerr’s rocket from distance — arguably the goal of the tournament. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images English midfielder Ella Toone scores the opener against Australia. Brendon Thorne/Getty Images English defender Alex Greenwood, left, battles Kerr for the ball. David Gray/AFP/Getty Images Salma Paralluelo, left, celebrates with teammates after Spain defeated Sweden 2-1 in the semifinals on Tuesday, August 15. Andrew Cornaga/AP Swedish players are dejected following the 2-1 loss to Spain. Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images Sweden’s Fridolina Rolfo jumps for a header with Spain’s Alexia Putellas. Alessandra Tarantino/AP Spain fans watch the semifinal inside Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Molly Darlington/Reuters A performer dances before the semifinal between Spain and Sweden. Molly Darlington/Reuters Alessia Russo, bottom, celebrates after scoring England’s second goal in the 2-1 over Colombia in the quarterfinals on Saturday, August 12. Carl Recine/Reuters Colombia’s Catalina Usme and Daniela Arias are dejected after the loss to England. Maddie Meyer/FIFA/Getty Images England’s Lauren Hemp, left, and Colombia’s Ana Guzman fight for the ball. Izhar Khan/AFP/Getty Images England’s Chloe Kelly controls the ball. Carl Recine/Reuters Leicy Santos celebrates her goal that gave Colombia a 1-0 lead against England. Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images Australian players celebrate after winning a dramatic penalty shootout against France on August 12. The shootout was decided on the 20th kick. Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images French goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin punches the ball away during the quarterfinal match against Australia. Tertius Pickard/AP Australia fans show their support at Brisbane Stadium. Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters Australia’s Mary Fowler controls the ball between France’s Sakina Karchaoui and Wendie Renard. Justin Setterfield/Getty Images French players are dejected after the match against Australia. Tertius Pickard/AP Sweden’s Filippa Angeldal, second right, celebrates after scoring a penalty against Japan on Friday, August 11. Sweden won 2-1 to book a spot in the semifinals. Abbie Parr/AP Japanese players react following the loss to Sweden. Abbie Parr/AP Sweden’s Amanda Ilestedt scores the first goal of the quarterfinal match against Japan. Phil Walter/Getty Images Japan’s Risa Shimizu dribbles the ball during the match against Sweden. Abbie Parr/AP Swedish captain Kosovare Asllani talks to her teammates prior to playing Japan. Jan Kruger/FIFA/Getty Images Spain’s Salma Paralluelo celebrates after scoring in extra time during the quarterfinal clash against the Netherlands on August 11. It ended up being the winning goal as Spain advanced with a 2-1 victory. Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto/Getty Images Esmee Brugts of the Netherlands goes for a header against Spain. Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto/Getty Images Spanish goalkeeper Cata Coll and defender Olga Carmona watch as a shot from the Netherlands’ Lineth Beerensteyn goes wide during extra time. Alessandra Tarantino/AP Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso celebrates the victory over the Netherlands. Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto/Getty Images France’s Selma Bacha, left, and Élisa De Almeida celebrate after a 4-0 victory against Morocco in the round of 16. Maddie Meyer/FIFA/Getty Images Morocco’s Sakina Ouzraoui is consoled by France’s Estelle Cascarino after the match. Sarah Reed/Getty Images France’s Eugénie Le Sommer heads the ball for her team’s fourth goal — and her second of the match — against Morocco. James Elsby/AP Morocco’s Ghizlane Chebbak and France’s Sandie Toletti compete for the ball. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images French midfielder Kenza Dali, left, celebrates with teammate Kadidiatou Diani against Morocco. Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images Colombia’s Daniela Arias celebrates with fans on August 8 after her team defeated Jamaica 1-0 to progress to the quarterfinals. Hannah Mckay/Reuters Catalina Usme celebrates after scoring Colombia’s goal against Jamaica. Andrew Wiseman/DeFodi Images/Getty Images Jamaica’s Kiki Van Zanten, left, and Colombia’s Carolina Arias compete for the ball. Hamish Blair/AP A Colombia fan soaks up the atmosphere before the match in Melbourne. Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters Jamaica’s Jody Brown controls the ball next to Colombia’s Diana Ospina Garcia. Robert Cianflone/Getty Images Denmark’s Amalie Vangsgaard, left, and Australia’s Caitlin Foord compete for the ball during a round-of-16 match on August 7. Australia won 2-0 to advance to the quarterfinals. Brendon Thorne/Getty Images Australia fans wave placards during the match in Sydney. The team is nicknamed the Matildas. Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images Foord scores a goal past Denmark goalkeeper Lene Christensen. David Gray/AFP/Getty Images Denmark’s players gather in a huddle before the match against Australia. David Gray/AFP/Getty Images England’s Chloe Kelly, bottom, celebrates with teammates Mary Earps, left, and Rachel Daly after scoring the winning penalty against Nigeria in the round of 16 on August 7. The match went to a shootout after ending 0-0. Dan Peled/Reuters Members of Nigeria’s team react during the penalty shootout. Elsa/FIFA/Getty Images England’s Lauren James received a red card in the 87th minute after stepping on Michelle Alozie. Matt Roberts/FIFA/Getty Images Earps makes a save against Nigeria. Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images US players comfort one another after being eliminated by Sweden in a penalty shootout on August 6. The United States won the last two tournaments. Quinn Rooney/Getty Images US star Alex Morgan cries after the loss to Sweden. Alex Pantling/FIFA/Getty Images Swedish players celebrate the victory over the United States. Robert Cianflone/Getty Images Sweden’s Amanda Ilestedt, left, and Fridolina Rolfö celebrate the win. Alex Pantling/FIFA/Getty Images US forward Lynn Williams, left, and Sweden defender Jonna Andersson compete for the ball. William West/AFP/Getty Images Megan Rapinoe takes a corner kick for the United States. Alex Pantling/Getty Images Morgan heads the ball against Sweden. William West/AFP/Getty Images Morgan and Ilestedt go up for a header. Brad Smith/Getty Images US midfielder Lindsey Horan grimaces in pain after a collision. Carmen Mandato/Getty Images US goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher grabs the ball in front of her goal. Scott Barbour/AP Horan gets to a header against Sweden. William West/AFP/Getty Images Swedish goalkeeper Zećira Mušović dives to save a Horan header. Robert Cianflone/Getty Images Sweden’s Johanna Kaneryd, center, fights off Andi Sullivan. Scott Barbour/AP Naeher rises for a ball during the match against Sweden. Hamish Blair/AP Rapinoe, left, looks on from the substitutes’ bench. William West/AFP/Getty Images Swedish captain Kosovare Asllani talks to her teammates before the US match. Alex Pantling – FIFA/Getty Images The Netherlands’ Jill Roord celebrates after scoring the first goal in her team’s 2-0 victory over South Africa on August 6. With the victory, the Dutch advanced to the quarterfinals. Jaimi Joy/Reuters Fans of the Netherlands cheer before the start of the match against South Africa. Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images South Africa’s Bambanani Mbane grimaces after colliding with the Netherlands’ Lieke Martens. She was taken off on a stretcher shortly after. Mark Baker/AP Japan’s Risa Shimizu, third from left, celebrates with teammates after scoring in the 3-1 victory over Norway on August 5. Hagen Hopkins/FIFA/Getty Japan’s Ayaka Yamashita of Japan dives in vain to stop a Norway shot on goal. Maja Hitij/FIFA/Getty Images Japan’s Mina Tanaka, center, rises for a header against Norway. Alessandra Tarantino/AP Spain’s Aitana Bonmatí celebrates a goal in the 5-1 win against Switzerland on August 5. Jan Kruger/FIFA/Getty Images Spain’s Alba Redondo puts the ball past Swiss goalkeeper Gaëlle Thalmann to score her team’s second goal. Andrew Cornaga/AP Spectators show their support during the match between Spain and Switzerland. Phil Walter/Getty Images Morocco players celebrate on August 3 after beating Colombia 1-0 to advance to the round of 16. Alex Grimm/FIFA/Getty Images Fans of Colombia watch their team’s match against Morocco. Maddie Meyer/FIFA/Getty Images Colombian teenage star Linda Caicedo, left, challenges Morocco’s Zineb Redouani during their final group match. Gary Day/AP German players react after they crashed out of the tournament following a 1-1 draw with South Korea on August 3. Dan Peled/Reuters South Korean goalkeeper Kim Jung-mi dives for the ball during the match against Germany. Chris Hyde/FIFA/Getty Images South Korea’s Cho So-hyun celebrates after giving her side the lead against Germany. Tertius Pickard/AP Brazil’s Marta, right, competes against Jamaica’s Tiernny Wiltshire on August 2. The two teams drew 0-0, but it was Jamaica that advanced to the knockout stage of the tournament. This was the last World Cup for Marta, the tournament’s record scorer and veteran of six tournaments. Hamish Blair/AP Jamaica’s Deneisha Blackwood celebrates with teammates after the draw with Brazil. Alex Pantling/FIFA/Getty Images Marta reacts after Brazil’s elimination. Elsa/FIFA/Getty Images France’s Vicki Becho celebrates after scoring her team’s sixth goal against Panama on August 2. France won 6-3 to advance to the knockout stage. Justin Setterfield/Getty Images Panama players spend time with fans after the France match. This was Panama’s first year playing at a Women’s World Cup. Carl Recine/Reuters France’s Maëlle Lakrar celebrates after scoring her team’s first goal against Panama. Mark Baker/AP South Africa’s Linda Motlhalo celebrates her team’s 3-2 win over Italy on August 2. It was South Africa’s first-ever win at a Women’s World Cup, and it helped them clinch a spot in the next round. Italy was eliminated with the loss. Hagen Hopkins/FIFA/Getty Images South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana tries to hold off Italy’s Elena Linari. Alessandra Tarantino/AP Italy’s Arianna Caruso celebrates after scoring against South Africa. Amanda Perobelli/Reuters Sweden’s Elin Rubensson celebrates after scoring from the penalty spot against Argentina on August 2. Sweden won 2-0. Fiona Goodall/FIFA/Getty Images Sweden’s Rebecka Blomqvist heads the ball for a goal against Argentina. Andrew Cornaga/AP Argentina’s Florencia Bonsegundo lies on the pitch after getting injured against Sweden. Abbie Parr/AP England’s Chloe Kelly celebrates after scoring against China on August 1. England won 6-1 to advance to the tournament’s round of 16. James Elsby/AP England’s Rachel Daly, right, scores the sixth goal against China. Hannah Mckay/Reuters Chinese forward Wang Shuang, left, celebrates with Yang Lina after scoring against England. Brenton Edwards/AFP/Getty Images Chinese defender Yao Wei, right, blocks a shot from England’s Lucy Bronze. Brenton Edwards/AFP/Getty Images Pernille Harder celebrates after scoring the first goal of Denmark’s 2-0 victory over Haiti on August 1. The win, coupled with China’s defeat against England, meant Denmark would advance to the knockout stage and face co-host Australia. Paul Kane/Getty Images Denmark’s Amalie Vangsgaard shields the ball from Haiti’s Ruthny Mathurin. Gary Day/AP Haiti fans cheer their team at the stadium in Perth, Australia. Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters Haiti’s Melchie Dumornay, left, gets tangled with Denmark’s Simone Boye. Paul Kane/Getty Images US forward Sophia Smith heads the ball during the goalless draw against Portugal on August 1. The result meant that the Americans, the two-time defending champions, would advance to the round of 16. Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images Megan Rapinoe consoles Portugal’s Jessica Silva following the draw, which knocked Portugal out of the competition. Rafaela Pontes/AP US forward Alex Morgan collides with Portuguese goalkeeper Inês Pereira in the first half. Carmen Mandato/USSF/Getty Images US fans show their support ahead of the Portugal match. Andrew Cornaga/AP US goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher collides with the post. Andrew Cornaga/AP Referee Rebecca Welch shows a yellow card to US midfielder Rose Lavelle. Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images Dutch midfielder Wieke Kaptein takes a selfie with fans after the Netherlands defeated Vietnam 7-0 and advanced to the knockout stage. Joe Allison//FIFA/Getty Images Vietnamese players Trần Thị Thu Thảo, left, and Dương Thị Vân react after the loss to the Netherlands. Alessandra Tarantino/AP Dutch forward Katja Snoeijs celebrates her team’s first goal, which was scored by Lieke Martens. Sanka Vidanagama/AFP/Getty Images The Netherlands’ Sherida Spitse, top, and Vietnam’s Nguyễn Thị Thanh Nhã compete for the ball. Alessandra Tarantino/AP Australian defender Stephanie Catley, right, celebrates with teammates after scoring her team’s fourth goal against Canada on July 31. Australia won 4-0 to book a spot in the round of 16. William West/AFP/Getty Images Australia fans in Melbourne celebrate after the Canada match. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan makes a save against Australia. Canada was eliminated because of the loss and Nigeria’s goalless draw against Ireland. Robert Cianflone/Getty Images Australia’s Hayley Raso, right, celebrates after scoring her side’s second goal against Canada. Victoria Adkins/AP Ireland’s Lily Agg, right, battles for the ball with Nigeria’s Uchenna Kanu during a 0-0 draw on July 31. Tertius Pickard/AP Nigeria’s Asisat Oshoala, center, misses a chance against Ireland. Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images A fan shows support for the Nigerian team during the match in Brisbane, Australia. Chris Hyde/FIFA/Getty Images Nigeria’s Chiamaka Nnadozie and Ireland’s Kyra Carusa react after a collision. Dan Peled/Reuters Japanese players celebrate at the end of their 4-0 victory over Spain on July 31. Both teams are advancing to the round of 16. John Cowpland/AP Fans of Japan help clean after the match in Wellington, New Zealand. Japan’s fans have become known in recent years for their efforts to clean stands after matches. Catherine Ivill/Getty Images Japan’s Hikaru Naomoto, top, and Spain’s Ona Batlle compete for the ball. Catherine Ivill/Getty Images Japan’s Hinata Miyazawa, second from left, celebrates scoring the team’s third goal with Honoka Hayashi, left, and Risa Shimizu. Amanda Perobelli/Reuters Costa Rican players appeal to referee Bouchra Karboubi before a VAR check on July 31. Zambia beat Costa Rica 3-1. It was Zambia’s first-ever win at a Women’s World Cup. Phil Walter/Getty Images Zambia’s Barbra Banda celebrates after scoring her team’s second goal from the penalty spot. Hannah Peters/FIFA/Getty Images Costa Rican midfielder Melissa Herrera, right, scores her team’s lone goal. Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images Costa Rica’s Fabiola Villalobos, left, takes a shot at goal as Zambia’s Racheal Kundananji attempts to block. Andrew Cornaga/AP Colombia’s Manuela Vanegas celebrates her team’s winning goal against Germany on June 30. The goal came in the final seconds of the match and lifted Colombia to a 2-1 victory. Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images Germany’s Alexandra Popp and Colombia’s Jorelyn Carabalí battle for the ball. Ulrik Pedersen/DeFodi Images/Getty Images Vanegas marks Germany’s Jule Brand. Sajad Imanian/DeFodi Images/Getty Images Germany fans attend the match against Colombia. Jaimi Joy/Reuters Linda Caicedo celebrates after scoring Colombia’s opener against Germany. Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images Norway celebrates a goal in its 6-0 victory over the Philippines on July 30. The victory helped Norway clinch a spot in the knockout stage. Phil Walter/Getty Images The Philippines’ Dominique Randle, center, consoles a teammate after the loss to Norway. The Philippines, playing in its first Women’s World Cup, was eliminated with the loss to Norway. Hannah Peters/FIFA/Getty Images The Philippines’ Hali Long makes a heart with her hands at the end of the Norway match. Rafaela Pontes/AP Philippines goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel fails to stop Norway’s Caroline Graham Hansen from scoring the third goal of the match. Abbie Parr/AP Norway’s Sophie Roman Haug is challenged by Jessika Cowart. Buda Mendes/Getty Images Philippines fans cheer for their team before the match against Norway. Rafaela Pontes/AP Ali Riley and Katie Bowen hug after New Zealand was knocked out of the tournament on July 30. The co-hosts drew Switzerland 0-0, but they will miss the knockout stage because of goal differential. Molly Darlington/Reuters Bowen clears the ball in front of Switzerland’s Julia Stierli. Alessandra Tarantino/AP Swiss forward Ramona Bachmann controls the ball against New Zealand. Sanka Vidanagama/AFP/Getty Images Moroccan players celebrate their 1-0 win over South Korea on July 30. James Elsby/AP Morocco’s Nouhaila Benzina, the first player to wear a hijab at a World Cup, is shown a yellow card by referee Edina Alves Batista. Hannah Mckay/Reuters Morocco’s Ibtissam Jraidi controls the ball before shooting on goal. Brenton Edwards/AFP/Getty Images Panama’s Aldrith Quintero, right, reaches for the ball in front of Jamaica’s Deneisha Blackwood and Kameron Simmonds on July 29. Jamaica won 1-0. It was Jamaica’s first-ever win at a Women’s World Cup. Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters Jamaican players celebrate after Allyson Swaby scored against Panama. Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters French coach Herve Renard kisses defender Wendie Renard on the forehead after her winning goal secured a 2-1 win against Brazil on July 29. Franck Fife/AFP/Getty Images Brazil’s Debinha celebrates her goal against France. Katie Tucker/AP Renard celebrates with teammates after scoring her team’s second goal. Aisha Schulz/AP Sweden’s Amanda Ilestedt, center, heads the ball to score the opening goal against Italy on July 29. Sweden won 5-0 to clinch a spot in the round of 16. John Cowpland/AP Sweden’s Rebecka Blomqvist celebrates after scoring her side’s fifth goal against Italy. John Cowpland/AP Italy fans cheer before their team’s match against Sweden in Wellington, New Zealand. John Cowpland/AP China’s Wang Shuang celebrates after scoring against Haiti on July 28. China won 1-0. Maddie Meyer/FIFA/Getty Images Haiti’s Melchie Dumornay, left, collides with China’s Dou Jiaxing on July 28. Alex Pantling/FIFA/Getty Images England’s Chloe Kelly attempts a bicycle kick versus Denmark on July 28. England won 1-0. Carl Recine/Reuters England goalkeeper Mary Earps makes a save against Denmark. Andy Cheung/Getty Images Denmark’s Janni Thomsen, left, collides with England’s Alex Greenwood. Carl Recine/Reuters Lauren James celebrates after scoring against Denmark. Justin Setterfield/Getty Images England’s Keira Walsh is stretchered off after sustaining an injury. Walsh, England’s midfield metronome, went down clutching her knee with no other player in her vicinity Jaimi Joy/Reuters South Africa’s Bambanani Mbane slides in for a tackle against Argentina’s Mariana Larroquette on July 28. Their match ended in a 2-2 draw. Molly Darlington/Reuters Argentina striker Yamila Rodriguez has received criticism for her Cristiano Ronaldo tattoo, the rival of Argentina star Lionel Messi. Matthew Lewis/FIFA/Getty Images South Africa’s Linda Motlhalo celebrates with teammates after scoring her team’s first goal against Argentina. South Africa led 2-0 before Argentina’s dramatic comeback. Lars Baron/Getty Images Onome Ebi, left, and Osinachi Ohale celebrate after Nigeria defeated Australia 3-2 on July 27. The stunning result means Nigeria has a one-point lead going into its final group game against already eliminated Ireland, while co-host Australia faces a must-win match against Canada. Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images Players from Australia and Nigeria compete for a ball in the air on July 27. Dan Peled/Reuters Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese takes a selfie with fans before the Nigeria match in Brisbane. Matt Roberts/FIFA/Getty Images Portugal forward Jéssica Silva, right, watches a shot go wide during a match against Vietnam on July 27. Portugal won 2-0, eliminating Vietnam’s hopes of advancing in the tournament. Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images Portugal’s Telma Encarnação reaches for the ball during the Vietnam match. Fiona Goodall/FIFA/Getty Images Vietnam fans show their support before the Portugal match. Phil Walter/Getty Images Dutch goalkeeper Daphne van Domselaar grabs the ball over the United States’ Julie Ertz during their 1-1 draw on July 27. Brad Smith/USSF/Getty Images US fans react during the Netherlands match, which was played in Wellington, New Zealand. Andrew Cornaga/AP US midfielder Lindsey Horan celebrates after scoring against the Netherlands. It was her second goal of the tournament. Joe Prior/Visionhaus/Getty Images Horan’s header tied the match after the Dutch took an early lead. Catherine Ivill/Getty Images More than 27,000 fans attended the Netherlands-US match. Amanda Perobelli/Reuters Canada’s Vanessa Gilles competes for a header with Ireland’s Niamh Fahey, bottom, and Louise Quinn during a match on July 26. Canada won 2-1. Coliin Murty/AFP/Getty Images Ireland’s Katie McCabe applauds fans after the match against Canada. Paul Kane/Getty Images Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan can’t get to a McCabe corner kick that went directly into the goal to give Ireland a 1-0 lead. The incredible “Olimpico” goal came in just the fourth minute of play. Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile/Getty Images Canadian forward Adriana Leon celebrates after scoring her team’s second goal against Ireland. Colin Murty/AFP/Getty Images Spain’s Jennifer Hermoso is thrown in the air by teammates as they celebrate their 5-0 victory over Zambia on July 26. With the win, Spain clinched a spot in the tournament’s knockout round. David Rowland/Reuters Hermoso, left, scores her first of two goals in the win over Zambia. Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images Spain fans enjoy the Zambia match at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. David Rowland/Reuters Spain’s Alexia Putellas consoles Zambia’s Mary Wilombe after the match. Zambia still had one match to play, but it was not going to be able to advance to the knockout stage. Phil Walter/Getty Images Japan’s Hikaru Naomoto, center, celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal in the 2-0 victory over Costa Rica on July 26. It was Japan’s second win in as many games, and it clinched a spot in the knockout stage. Alessandra Tarantino/AP Japan’s Mina Tanaka heads the ball toward the Costa Rican goal. Lars Baron/Getty Images Japan fans react during the match against Costa Rica, which took place at the Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin, New Zealand. Alessandra Tarantino/AP Costa Rican goalkeeper Daniela Solera is shaken up during a play against Japan. She was able to continue. Molly Darlington/Reuters Switzerland players, in red, defend their box during a match against Norway on July 25. The match ended in a 0-0 draw. Phil Walter/Getty Images Rain pours down during the Norway-Switzerland match. Fiona Goodall/FIFA/Getty Images People in Indigenous dress perform during a welcome ceremony that was held before Norway-Switzerland. Phil Walter/Getty Images Philippines midfielder Sarina Bolden celebrates scoring against New Zealand on July 25. Bolden’s first-half header lifted her country to a 1-0 victory — its first win ever at a Women’s World Cup. Amanda Perobelli/Reuters New Zealand’s Hannah Wilkinson attempts to head the ball past Philippines goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel during their match on July 25. Andrew Cornaga/AP Bolden scores on New Zealand keeper Victoria Esson. Katelyn Mulcahy/FIFA/Getty Images Philippines fans show their support during the team’s first-ever win at a Women’s World Cup. Hagen Hopkins/FIFA/Getty Images Colombia’s Catalina Usme celebrates with teammates after scoring her team’s first goal against South Korea on July 25. Colombia won 2-0. Jaimi Joy/Reuters South Korea’s Cho So-hyun, bottom left, competes for the ball against Colombia’s Jorelyn Carabali and Carolina Arias. Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Colombia fans show their support in Sydney. Carl Recine/Reuters Usme tries to control the ball in front of South Korea’s Kim Hye-ri. Carl Recine/Reuters Colombia midfielder Manuela Vanegas receives a yellow card from referee Rebecca Welch. David Gray/AFP/Getty Images Brazil’s Marta, left, heads the ball during a match against Panama on July 24. Brazil won 4-0. Matt Turner/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock Brazil’s Ary Borges celebrates her third goal during the Panama. Her hat trick was the first of the tournament. James Elsby/AP Brazilian fans watch the match against Panama, which was held in Adelaide, Australia. James Elsby/AP Moroccan goalkeeper Khadija Er-Rmichi tries to punch the ball away during a match against Germany on July 24. Germany dominated Morocco 6-0 in what was the biggest scoreline of the tournament so far. Victoria Adkins/AP Germany’s Alexandra Popp celebrates scoring a goal against Morocco. Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters Germany fans celebrate as their team gets off to a great start. Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters Morocco’s Fatima Tagnaout runs during the match against Germany. Hamish Blair/AP Italy’s Cristiana Girelli celebrates after scoring a late winner against Argentina on July 24. Italy won 1-0. Kim Price/CSM/Shutterstock Italian goalkeeper Francesca Durante makes a save during the match against Argentina. Abbie Parr/AP Argentina coach German Portanova reacts during the Italy match. David Rowland/Reuters Italy’s Giulia Dragoni is challenged by Estefania Banini of Argentina. At the age of 16, Dragoni became the youngest player to represent Italy in the competition’s history. Buda Mendes/Getty Images Jamaican players celebrate on July 23, after their 0-0 draw against France earned them their country’s first-ever point in the Women’s World Cup. David Gray/AFP/Getty Images Jamaica’s Atlanta Primus tugs the shirt of France’s Grace Geyoro. Mark Baker/AP Jamaican goalkeeper Rebecca Spencer marshals her defense. Robert Cianflone/Getty Images Jamaica’s Khadija “Bunny” Shaw is sent off for a second bookable offense against France. Mark Baker/AP France’s Estelle Cascarino, left, and Shaw battle for the ball. Mark Baker/AP Portugal’s Ines Pereira dives in vain as the Netherlands’ Stefanie van der Gragt, not pictured, scores the only goal in the match on July 23. Lars Baron/Getty Images Van der Gragt, left, and Portugal’s Jessica Silva battle for possession. Alessandra Tarantino/AP Silva signs autographs for fans after the match. Joe Allison/FIFA/Getty Images Sweden’s Amanda Ilestedt celebrates after scoring a late winner against South Africa on July 23. Sweden won 2-1. Catherine Ivill/Getty Images South Africa’s Hildah Magaia, who scored the opening goal, runs with the ball alongside Sweden’s Elin Rubensson. Amanda Perobelli/Reuters A South Africa fan shows support during the match. Katelyn Mulcahy/FIFA/Getty Images Danish players celebrate Amalie Vangsgaard’s late goal that gave them a 1-0 victory over China on July 22. Colin Murty/AFP/Getty Images China fans show their support prior to their team’s opening match against Denmark. Paul Kane/Getty Images China’s Zhang Linyan competes for the ball with Denmark’s Pernille Harder. Gary Day/AP China head coach Shui Qingxia gestures during the match. Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters England’s Alessia Russo and Haiti’s Tabita Joseph fight for the ball during the two sides’ opening game on July 22. England’s Lionesses, the reigning European champions, earned a scrappy 1-0 victory over the tournament debutants. Dan Peled/Reuters England’s Georgia Stanway converts the winner against Haiti from the penalty spot. Dan Peled/Reuters Nicolas Delépine, Haiti’s head coach, instructs his team during the match. Justin Setterfield/Getty Images Haiti goalkeeper Kerly Theus jumps to make one of many impressive saves against England. Zac Goodwin/PA Images/Getty Images Japan’s Jun Endo celebrates with her bench after scoring her team’s fourth goal in a 5-0 win against Zambia on July 22. John Cowpland/AP Japan’s Mina Tanaka battles with Zambia’s Agnes Musase. David Rowland/Reuters Aoba Fujino of Japan is brought down by Zambian goalkeeper Catherine Musonda, resulting in a penalty to Japan. It was later overturned due to offside. Catherine Ivill/Getty Images Japan supporters react following their team’s emphatic victory over Zambia. John Cowpland/AP US forward Alex Morgan is surrounded by Vietnam defenders during their opening match on July 22. The United States, the two-time defending champs, won 3-0. Carmen Mandato/USSF/Getty Images Lindsey Horan, left, celebrates with US teammate Megan Rapinoe after Horan scored the third goal against Vietnam. Fiona Goodall/FIFA via Getty Images Players collide in the box as Vietnam goalkeeper Trần Thị Kim Thanh looks to clear the ball away. Rafaela Pontes/AP US forward Sophia Smith dribbles the ball against Vietnam. She scored the first two goals of the match. Ane Frosaker/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images Fans cheer during the US-Vietnam match in Auckland, New Zealand. Saeed Khan/AFP/Getty Images Spain’s Esther González wins a header against Costa Rica’s Mariana Benavides on July 21. Spain won 3-0. Amanda Perobelli/Reuters González scores her team’s third goal against Costa Rica. Catherine Ivill/Getty Images A Māori welcoming ceremony is held prior to the Spain-Costa Rica match. Catherine Ivill/Getty Images Switzerland’s Seraina Piubel scores her team’s second goal during its 2-0 victory against the Philippines on July 21. Molly Darlington/Reuters The Philippines’ Katrina Guillou takes a shot against Switzerland’s Gaëlle Thalmann. The goal was disallowed. Molly Darlington/Reuters A Philippines fan enjoys the pre-match atmosphere. This was the country’s Women’s World Cup debut. Lars Baron/Getty Images Canadian goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan punches the ball clear during a 0-0 draw against Nigeria on July 21. William West/AFP/Getty Images Nigeria’s Uchenna Kanu takes a selfie with fans after the Canada match. Asanka Brendon Ratnayake/Reuters Nigerian goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie clears the ball after saving a penalty by Canada’s Christine Sinclair. William West/AFP/Getty Images Australia’s Steph Catley, third from left, celebrates scoring her team’s only goal against Ireland on June 20. Australia won 1-0 in Sydney. Carl Recine/Reuters Fans in Melbourne celebrate as they watch the match between Australia and Ireland. Alex Pantling/FIFA via Getty Images Ireland’s Heather Payne, left, tries to cross the ball past Australia’s Kyra Cooney-Cross. This was Ireland’s first-ever match in a Women’s World Cup. Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile via Getty Images Supporters of both Australia and Ireland watch the match in Sydney. The second match of this year’s tournament set a new single-game attendance record for a women’s soccer match in Australia, with 75,784 fans watching. Jaimi Joy/Reuters Australian goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold makes a save. Franck Fife/AFP via Getty Images New Zealand’s Ria Percival and Katie Bowen, in black, compete for the ball with Norway’s Caroline Graham Hansen on July 20. New Zealand won the opening match 1-0. It was the country’s first-ever win at a Women’s World Cup. David Rowland/Reuters Norway star Ada Hegerberg reacts after a missed chance against New Zealand. Jan Kruger/FIFA via Getty Images New Zealand’s CJ Bott, left, and Norway’s Mathilde Harviken vie for the ball. Abbie Parr/AP New Zealand fans react during the match against Norway, which was played in Auckland, New Zealand. Andrew Cornaga/AP Norway players huddle before the match against New Zealand. Jan Kruger/FIFA/Getty Images Fireworks explode during the tournament’s opening ceremony, which was held before the New Zealand-Norway match. Buda Mendes/Getty Images The roughly 10-minute opening ceremony celebrated both New Zealand and Australia’s indigenous heritage and culture, with Māori and First Nations dancers and singers taking to the center of the field. Buda Mendes/Getty Images Dancers perform during the opening ceremony at Auckland’s Eden Park. Abbie Parr/AP Performers dance during the opening ceremony. Buda Mendes/Getty Images A performer is pictured during the opening ceremony. Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto/Getty Images Benee and Mallrat perform “Do It Again,” the official song of this year’s Women’s World Cup, during the opening ceremony. Benee is from New Zealand and Mallrat is from Australia. Buda Mendes/Getty Images Dancers take the field during the opening ceremony. Buda Mendes/Getty Images Children hold flags during the opening ceremony. David Rowland/Reuters
The best photos of the 2023 Women's World Cup
Prince William praise
Under Wiegman, the Lionesses have captured the imagination of their nation and the semifinal victory was even given the royal seal of approval.
Prince William, who is president of England’s Football Association, led the celebrations after watching the reigning European champion book its ticket for Sunday’s final.
“What a phenomenal performance from the @Lionesses – on to the final!” William said in a post from Kensington Palace on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“Commiserations to @TheMatildas, you’ve played brilliantly and been fantastic co-hosts of this World Cup.”
Spain’s Salma Paralluelo celebrates as her teammates run onto the pitch after defeating Sweden in the Women’s World Cup semifinal soccer match at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Andrew Cornaga) Andrew Cornaga/AP
Sporting royalty also joined in with the celebrations, with former England men’s captain David Beckham sending his praise.
“Amazing achievement, congratulations @lionesses,” he wrote on Instagram.
While England will rightly attract the majority of attention for its record-breaking achievement, the Australian team will be proud of the part it played.
The Matildas have inspired a new generation of soccer fans with their run at the tournament and the players gave all they had against England.
The game will always be remembered for Sam Kerr’s stunning equalizer but also for the atmosphere generated by over 75,000 people inside the stadium.
The crowd was a living, breathing example of what this Australian team has done for soccer in the country.
Almost all the players, from both sides, commentated on the atmosphere as they walked off the pitch.
Australia captain Kerr was particularly dejected after the full-time whistle, but still praised the fans for what they produced inside the stadium.
“We can’t thank the fans enough, they’ve been amazing,” the striker told reporters.
“We felt the love all over the country. Just to see the support we’ve had has really pushed us on. Hopefully, this stays around because this has been amazing for us.”
Sam Kerr looked distraught after the semifinal defeat. Brendon Thorne/Getty Images
It was an achievement recognized by one of Australia’s most internationally recognized athletes, Cathy Freeman.
The gold medal-winning athlete herself inspired the nation with her memorable and unifying victory in the 400 meters at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
“So incredibly proud of our girls! You gave it everything and inspired an entire nation! Hold your head up high and here’s to the future,” she wrote on X.
While England will play for a maiden World Cup title against La Roja on Sunday, Australia will battle Sweden in the third-place playoff on Saturday.
It’s not the final match that the squad was hoping for, but Australia’s head coach Tony Gustavsson said the team can still look back fondly on its campaign.
“I am proud, but I’m also sad that we could have made them even prouder tonight with a win,” he told reporters after the game.
“I feel for so many tonight when you look at this. The players left it all out there. I think that’s why the fans are thanking them.”
While one nation laments what could have been, another dreams of that which could be – the heartbreak and elation of sport encapsulated in 90 hard-fought minutes in Sydney.
CNN’s Hilary Whiteman and Lauren Said-Moorhouse contributed reporting.