England reached the Women's World Cup final for the first time with victory over Australia. England reached the Women’s World Cup final for the first time with victory over Australia. Izhar Khan/AFP/Getty Images CNN  — 

England has reached the Women’s World Cup final for the first time thanks to a stunning 3-1 win over co-host Australia on Wednesday.

Ella Toone’s first-half goal gave England a deserved lead, before Australia superstar Sam Kerr produced a long-range stunner to draw the sides level in the second half.

But Ellie Carpenter’s error in defense allowed Lauren Hemp to restore England’s lead, before Alessia Russo ended Australia’s hopes with a goal on the counterattack as the Matildas went in search of an equalizer.

The pain and heartbreak of defeat was etched onto the Australian players’ faces, with many of them reduced to tears as they applauded their way around Sydney’s Stadium Australia to thank the fans for their unwavering support.

Led by the inimitable Kerr, Australia had real hopes of becoming just the second host nation ever to win a Women’s World Cup.

Though the disappointment will no doubt linger for some time, when the dust settles the team will be able to truly appreciate the impact of their performances on women’s football in the country, with record ticket sales, attendances and TV viewing figures coming to define this tournament.

England, meanwhile, is beginning to exert itself as the dominant force in international women’s football under head coach Sarina Wiegman.

Sam Kerr was unable to prevent Australia's exit. Sam Kerr was unable to prevent Australia’s exit. Brendon Thorne/Getty Images

Her team has been criticized at times at this World Cup for its style of play but after winning the European Championships last summer, this is now the second consecutive major tournament in which England has reached the final.

“The one thing I’ve always wanted is to make the final of the World Cup and after coming close twice, I can’t put this into words,” England defender Lucy Bronze told the BBC after the match.

“We played the game how we wanted to; we were determined, resilient. We knew the crowd was going to be crazy tonight and we had to silence them and I thought we did that with the third goal.

“We all dreamed being in the final and all our family and friends stayed here until the final because they believed in us. It’s been amazing to play Australia in Australia, they’ve had a great tournament.”

More to follow…

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