Australia beat France on penalties to reach last four - USA Trending Blog

Australia beat France on penalties to reach last four - USA Trending Blog

Australia beat France on penalties to reach last four - USA Trending Blog

Co-hosts Australia reached the Women's World Cup semi-finals for the first time as they beat France in an incredible penalty shoot-out at Brisbane Stadium.

Following a goalless 120 minutes, the Matildas triumphed 7-6 in a shoot-out which defied belief with its dramatic twists.

Cortnee Vine scored the winning spot-kick for Australia, after Vicki Becho had struck the post for France.

Australia keeper Mackenzie Arnold made a total of four saves in the shoot-out - including twice from Kenza Dali, having moved off the line for the first stop, leading to a retake.

Arnold herself had the opportunity to score the winning penalty as the fifth taker for Australia, after saving from Eve Perisset, but struck the post as nearly 50,000 Australians inside the stadium went through every emotion imaginable.

But it is the hosts who march on, reaching their first ever Women's World Cup semi-final.

Australia will play England or Colombia at Stadium Australia in Sydney on 16 August at 11.00 BST.

Australia were roared on by a capacity crowd who created a lively atmosphere at Brisbane Stadium, but having fallen at the quarter-final stage in three previous World Cups, initially they looked more cowed by the pressure than invigorated by it.

But they grew into the game and should have led four minutes before the interval.

France keeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin - who looked a bag of nerves all evening - failed to command a loose ball in the box, allowing Van Egmond to nip in and square to Mary Fowler, who seemed certain to tuck the chance away.

Peyraud-Magnin was only bailed out by covering defender Elisa de Almeida, whose last-gasp sliding block was one of the finest pieces of defending seen at this World Cup so far.

Those nerves from Peyraud-Magnin extended into the second half, as she miscued a clearance straight to Fowler shortly after the break and was again helped out by a defender blocking the resulting shot.

Australia manager Tony Gustavsson had said he would only start Sam Kerr if she was definitely fit to play the full match, and duly kept back the Matildas talisman to make an impact in the latter stages.

On 55 minutes, he pulled the Kerr lever, activating an ear-splitting roar from the home fans. The 29-year-old Chelsea striker was immediately into the action, driving forwards to set up a move which resulted in Raso testing Peyraud-Magnin from range.

Australia, newly fired up, applied heavy pressure to the French goal but could not find a breakthrough in regulation time, making this the first in 31 Women's World Cup matches featuring Australia to be goalless after 90 minutes.

It was also goalless after 120 minutes - leading to a shoot-out which will go down in football history and Australian folklore.

They are the first hosts to reach the Women's World Cup semi-finals since USA in 2003 - and could be the first since the Americans in 1999 to triumph on home soil.