Women’s World Cup Daily: Matildas’ win sends Australia wild


The 2023 Women’s World Cup is in full swing, and these daily files give you the latest reporting from around the tournament as well as betting lines, what-to-watch-for information and best reads. Check in with ESPN throughout the tournament as we bring you the latest from Australia and New Zealand.

The lead: Australia united in celebration of Matildas

SYDNEY — You may have thought the explosion of joy that emanated from Brisbane’s Lang Park as Cortnee Vine‘s decisive penalty in Australia‘s shootout win over France in the quarterfinals would be unmatchable.

But you’d be wrong. For as the Matildas dashed forward in celebration of their first appearance in the Women’s World Cup semifinals, the scenes of unbridled bliss coming from the ground were being matched all around the country.

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Across town, the AFL news conferences of Brisbane Lions coach Chris Fagan and Adelaide Crows boss Matthew Nicks were interrupted so the two Australian rules football managers could watch Vine’s penalty on a phone.

As the sea of bodies gathered outside Sydney’s Stadium Australia to watch the game on big screens ahead of England‘s quarterfinal win over Colombia, former Melbourne City attacker Bryleeh Henry — who has two caps for the Matildas but did not make this World Cup squad — was forced to climb a tree just to see Vine’s heroics. Nearby, supporters who had remained in their seats at the Sydney Cricket Ground following the Sydney Swans’ AFL win over Gold Coast celebrated the moment Vine’s shot hit the net.

During Melbourne’s AFL clash with visiting Carlton, where the Matildas’ quarterfinal was on the big screen but was turned off when extra time began, punters poured into the concourses to view the game on the smaller screens still showing it. With Carlton and Melbourne in action in the foreground, ignored, the crowd erupted into a mass of jubilation when the penalty struck. Even those supposed to be calling the game from the commentary boxes above couldn’t help but be distracted.

These were displays repeated just across the road from the ‘G at Rod Laver Arena, in downtown Melbourne at a Federation Square bathed in the glow of flares, at Optus Stadium in Perth, at Adelaide’s Festival Plaza, at the Kingston Hotel in Canberra and even at a semi-professional basketball game — confusing the players on the court when the stands seemingly being celebrating nothing in particular. It was everywhere. All of the country was celebrating with Vine.

What is happening in Australia thanks to the Matildas is almost impossible to explain to those overseas. Heck, it’s impossible to comprehend for those living here. The Matildas are uniting the country in a way that has never been seen before. — Joey Lynch

Sights and sounds

Bonmatí skips Spain training

Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmatí trained alone on Sunday just two days before Tuesday’s semifinal against Sweden in Auckland.

Bonmatí, who ended the win over Netherlands with a minor abductor issue, did work with the national team’s physios inside the gym, although sources say she will be back with the group on Monday.

La Roja will hope that is the case as she has been one of the standout performers at the tournament so far. The Barcelona player has scored three goals and set up two more in five appearances to date.

Defender Laia Codina also missed training on Sunday but is expected to be fit to face Sweden. However, she may not keep her place in the side after captain Ivana Andrés returned as a substitute in the quarterfinal. Coach Jorge Vilda will decide on the day of the game who is in the best shape to partner Irene Paredes. — Sam Marsden



Sweden or Spain? The FC team’s semifinal picks

The ESPN FC crew make their predictions for the World Cup semifinal matchup between Sweden and Spain.

A new name on the trophy

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — We are guaranteed a first-time champion this year as the none of the four semifinalists are previous Women’s World Cup winners.

Sweden have more than played their part in that, having eliminated reigning champions the United States in the round of 16 and then winning their quarterfinal against 2011 winners Japan.

When asked if the Sweden players had talked about there being a first-time winner in 2023, Magdalena Eriksson said: “Not on the team, but I’ve thought about it. For me, that was a big driving factor: imagine knocking out two World Cup winners on your way to the final. It shows that we are here, we are ready to compete.

“We’ve not had an easy way at all, and if we reach the final, we will be so deserving of it. Now it’s just one game left and we’re going to give it everything we have.”

Japan were the last first-time winner of the tournament, when they beat the USWNT in a penalty shootout 12 years ago in Frankfurt, Germany. Whoever lifts the trophy in 2023 will be only the fifth nation to do so; the U.S. has won four times, Germany twice, with Norway the other one-time winner along with Japan. — Caitlin Murray



How ‘resilient’ Australia beat France on penalties for semifinal spot

Sophie Lawson recaps a dramatic quarterfinal between Australia and France as the co-hosts advance to the Women’s World Cup semifinals.

Too hot for TV

MELBOURNE, Australia — Preliminary, non-adjusted figures from ratings agency OzTAM released by free-to-air broadcaster Channel 7 indicate that the broadcast of the Matildas’ win over France reached more than 6.2 million people between its terrestrial and digital arms on Saturday evening — approximately 23% of Australia’s population — peaking at 4.43m viewers and holding an average estimated audience of 4.17m people.

These results, however, don’t include the figures for the game running over its allotted time due to extra time and a record-setting 20-shot penalty shootout, meaning that these numbers are almost certain to rise when adjusted figures are released on Thursday.

Further, the numbers being touted by Channel 7 also do not to account for the tens of thousands of people that gathered communally, be they in clubs, pubs, sporting venues or at the multitude of live sites that sprang up to meet the massive demand. Nor do they cover those watching on official rights-holders Optus Sport, a paywalled streaming service. Optus on-sold free-to-air broadcasting rights of Matildas games and select other World Cup games to Channel 7 after initially securing exclusive rights to the tournament for a reported sum of between $8m-10m.

While Optus Sport didn’t release the exact figures for its broadcast on Sunday, it did say that Matildas’ games across the past month now make up three of the five most-viewed fixtures the service had ever broadcast, with Saturday’s game trailing only the European Championship final between Italy and England’s men’s teams in 2021, as well as England’s clash with Denmark in that same tournament — both of which were exclusive to Optus Sport — in viewership.

Though exact calculations are impossible, it’s certain that the Matildas, once again, have rewritten the ranking of the most-viewed sporting events in Australian television. There is a chance that their win over France was the second-most viewed event in the country’s history — trailing only the legendary 400m gold medal-winning run of Australia’s Cathy Freeman at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney — Joey Lynch



How ‘experienced’ England fought back to beat Colombia

Mark Ogden recaps England’s 2-1 quarterfinal win over Colombia at the Women’s World Cup.

News of the day

  • The Matildas earned a famous, historic penalty shootout victory against France on Saturday to secure a maiden appearance in a World Cup semifinal. But Australia captain Sam Kerr could have done without the shootout. “They’re a roller coaster, honestly, up and down. But pens is just, I hate pens, I wish there was golden goal or something because I just think it’s such a bad way for anyone to lose,” she told media on Saturday.

  • Lauren Hemp said England are brimming with confidence ahead of their Women’s World Cup semifinal with Australia while Sarina Wiegman admits she’ll need a crash course on the England-Australia rivalry ahead of the blockbuster clash. “We are all feeling really confident, Australia, bring it on,” Hemp said on Saturday. “I’m absolutely over the moon, I can’t wait. The atmosphere here was incredible, it’s going to be incredible again. That’s when you thrive, I feel like we will thrive once again.”

  • England are drawing on the lasting hurt from their semifinal defeat to the USWNT in the 2019 Women’s World Cup as motivation ahead of their final-four showdown with Australia on Wednesday. “I think as much as you look forward — and for us our mentality is always looking forward — when you play in tournaments those moments always stay there and you always want to correct them,” Millie Bright said. “For us, the game is in a very different place and as a team we’re in a very different place. We look forward now, it’s a new challenge and new opportunity. You definitely learn from it but the game’s in such a different place that a lot has changed since then. Everything is different — the crowd, the atmosphere, the teams, the quality of the tournament. Everything is at a new level so as much as you still carry some of that with you at this point you’ve already learned a lot so for me it’s always about looking forwards.”

Features of the day

Russo, England pushed to limit as rivals Australia await
England are operating and problem-solving as they progress in the World Cup, and their next test against hosts Australia will be their biggest yet.

The Matildas on the precipice of Australian immortality
Sometimes the footballing gods get together with their counterparts and concoct something special, leaving those below scratching their heads as to how it’s all possible.

France exit Women’s World Cup with mix of regret and optimism
“The biggest regret is that we lost knowing we gave everything,” Grace Geyoro told ESPN after losing to Australia. But France can look to the future.

Colombia’s magical World Cup run despite off-field issues
“The biggest regret is that we lost knowing we gave everything,” Grace Geyoro told ESPN after losing to Australia. But France can look to the future.

And finally …

AUCKLAND, New Zealand — Australia’s penalty shootout win against France in Brisbane did not just keep everyone on tenterhooks in Australia — it also led to tension up in the skies above the country.

With many domestic flights in Australia serviced by live television, the France game was essential viewing up in the clouds too. One passenger filmed the moment that Cortnee Vine struck the winning spot kick for the co-hosts, and posted the footage on social media.

Virtually every seatback screen was set to the Matildas game, and the cabin erupted in noisy celebration when Vine sealed victory for her team.

However, the footage caught one passenger who instead chose to watch a instalment of the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy. They appeared to be so gripped by the epic fantasy tale that there was not even a flinch of recognition from them as the rest of the plane celebrated Australia’s achievement.

Football has won many news fans Down Under during this tournament, but clearly some people are still more interested in the battle for Middle Earth than for the World Cup. — Mark Ogden


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