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England stifles Australia comeback to advance to World Cup final

Alessia Russo celebrates after scoring England's third goal in a 3-1 win over Australia. (Zac Goodwin/PA Images via Getty Images)

England has advanced to their first Women’s World Cup final with a 3-1 win over host nation Australia in the semifinals on Wednesday.

Australia appeared on the verge of a comeback after Sam Kerr tied the game 1-1 with a long-distance strike in the 63rd minute. But England quieted the crowd with a response eight minutes later, as Lauren Hemp got on the end of a long ball and took advantage of miscommunication along Australia’s backline to restore England’s lead.

Alessia Russo, who scored the game-winner in England’s 2-1 win over Colombia in the quarterfinals, put the game away with another goal of her own in the 86th minute.

Ella Toone, who replaced suspended forward Lauren James in the starting lineup, opened the scoring for the Lionesses with a one-time strike into the top right corner in the first half.

Kerr ignited the home crowd in the second half with a stunning individual scoring effort. Australia’s star striker received the ball at midfield and dribbled all the way to the top of the 18-yard box before curling a shot past the outstretched hands of England goalkeeper Mary Earps.

Kerr was starting in her first game at this World Cup since injuring her calf in training before the tournament began. After missing Australia’s first two games, she had been on a minutes restriction leading up to the semifinal.

Kerr had multiple chances throughout the second half to give Australia the lead, but she couldn’t convert and England took advantage.

James will be available for the World Cup final after serving a two-game red-card suspension for stepping on the back of Nigerian player Michelle Alozie in the Round of 16. James emerged as England’s breakout star in the group stage, leading the team with three goals and three assists in the tournament.

England is moving onto another final of a major tournament after winning the Euros in their home country last year. Head coach Sarina Wiegman leads her second national team into a World Cup final after coaching the Netherlands in the 2019 final, which the Dutch lost to the United States. She is the first coach to do so with two different countries.

England will meet Spain in the championship game on Sunday (6 a.m. ET, FOX) after La Roja defeated Sweden 2-1 in a dramatic finish to the other semifinal game. Both teams are playing for their first-ever World Cup title.