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Sam Kerr’s magic runs out in Australia’s World Cup elimination

Sam Kerr scored once but it wasn't enough for Australia. (Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Sam Kerr leapt in the air and pumped her fist, celebrating her long-range, right-footed goal to tie the World Cup semifinal for Australia.

Then Kerr and her team came back down to earth. England scored twice in the second half, defeating the host Matildas, 3-1, to advance to Sunday’s championship match. Kerr sank to the pitch, wearing an expression of defeat as the Lionesses celebrated.

The Australian legend’s magic had run out.

Kerr missed the group stage of the World Cup with a calf injury, before finally entering late in Australia’s 2-0 win over Denmark in the Round of 16. She was subbed in early in the second half of the quarterfinal before converting a penalty kick to help the Matildas edge France in a dramatic shootout win.

The striker started for the first time of the tournament in the England game, and her 63rd minute goal breathed new life into the Australian side. But just eight minutes later, England’s Lauren Hemp scored to put the Lionesses ahead once again, and Alessia Russo’s 86th minute goal – seconds after Kerr’s missed shot off a corner kick – iced the game.

The defeat marks the end of the run for one of the most beloved international players.

Her goal against the Lionesses was a tour de force. After receiving the ball at midfield, Kerr dribbled toward two defenders, with a third on her back, and fired from several feet above the penalty arc. The ball curved around both defenders and screamed into the top right corner of the net, just past the outstretched arm of England goalkeeper Mary Earps.

England’s comeback was minutes away, but for a few brief moments Kerr soaked in the love from her home fans, a soccer queen assuming her throne.