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‘Best is yet to come’: Alessia Russo’s goal lifts England to semifinals

Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo led England past Colombia. (Joe Prior/Visionhaus via Getty Images)

England entered its quarterfinal matchup against Colombia on Saturday at a disadvantage: Midfielder Lauren James, its top player, was given a red card and suspended after stepping on a Nigerian player in the Round of 16.

The Lionesses then went down a goal when Colombian midfielder Leicy Santos scored in the 44th minute.

England, however, was hardly ready to lie down. Forward Lauren Hemp knotted the game at 1 late in the first half, before forward Alessia Russo scored the go-ahead goal in the 63th minute.

“I really believe the best is yet to come,” said England goalkeeper Mary Earps. “There is so much talent in this group, and so many more levels that we can go.”

England’s national team has been on the rise in recent years, after winning the 2022 UEFA European Women’s Championship. The Lionesses also advanced to the World Cup semifinal in 2019.

The U.S. Women’s National Team’s stunning exit in the Round of 16 has created a void at the top of the international field – the USWNT won back-to-back World Cups in 2015 and 2019 – and England could be primed to fill it.

The Lionesses’ road forward will hardly be easy, though. England will play host Australia, which is coming off an emotional penalty kicks victory over France, in a semifinal match on Wednesday. And James will be unavailable once again because of the Nigeria incident.

“It’s exciting,” Russo said. “You want to play against the best teams.”