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When Sam Kerr had her moment, she grabbed it with both hands.
A breakaway run in the 63rd minute of the game, and the Matildas skipper sent the ball into the back of the net to draw her team 1-1 with England.
There were similar moments sprinkled throughout the game, like when she went one-on-one with English keeper Mary Earps in just the seventh minute, igniting a roar from the 75,000-strong crowd at Stadium Australia.
But for the most part, Australia’s star striker was hunted down by the pack of Lionesses, and the Matildas’ fairytale World Cup ended with a 3-1 loss to England on Wednesday night.
Watching the likes of Lucy Bronze, Alex Greenwood and Keira Walsh jam into Kerr and run her off the ball, you couldn’t help but think coach Sarina Wiegman must have had a master plan to dismantle the Matildas Kerr-factor.
But ask Bronze what the plan was, and there wasn’t one at all.
England’s Alex Greenwood tackles Sam Kerr for the ball.Credit: AP
“We just wanted to play our game and that’s exactly what we did. We didn’t have someone running around after Sam Kerr,” Bronze said.
“We know she’s a fantastic player, but we’ve got 11 of those on the pitch. So, we just have to play our own game, and I think that’s what we did tonight.”
In fact, despite the team’s playing for a spot in the final, Bronze didn’t even think it was the Lionesses’ most physical game this tournament.
“I think the most physical game we played was probably against Nigeria. So playing Australia was probably a little less physical than that game,” Bronze said.
England’s Lucy Bronze heads the ball away from Caitline Foord.Credit: Getty Images
“I think we’ve been prepared to play against many different types of teams in this tournament, and I think we’re capable of matching any team in terms of physicality.”
When asked about Kerr’s impact on the game, Wiegman, the mastermind coach behind England’s Euros win and World Cup final qualification, decided to praise Australia’s midfield.
“I think also the two midfielders of Australia, they’re really quick, very agile, and they were sometimes very dangerous when they went forward too,” Wiegman said.
“Of course Sam Kerr is an important player to them, but I think there are more players in the Australian team that are really good. So yeah, we had to defend really well.”
England now march on to their first Women’s World Cup final, where they play Spain to lift the trophy.
Lionesses’ striker Chloe Kelly said the team were soaking up the moment before they turn their focus to Sunday’s final.
“This is what dreams are made of. To do that out there in front of the Australian crowds, it’s unbelievable and to be through to a final with the girls is amazing,” Kelly said.
“The mentality of this group I think, we don’t let a thing stand in our way. We bounce back to everything. Everything that gets thrown at us we show our character throughout the whole group. I think we have belief in our squad.”
“Our focus now changes. We rest, recover, get back on the training pitch.”
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