England have come under fire over their 'dirty' tactics in their 3-1 win over the Matildas in the Women's World Cup semi-finals. Australia's fairytale run came to a crashing halt on Wednesday night in Sydney as England advanced to the final against Spain.
England proved too good for the gallant Matildas, however their tactics throughout the match came in for widespread criticism. Sam Kerr was the target of a number of heavy challenges early in the game, with Alex Greenwood picking up a yellow card for a cynical foul.
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“Greenwood very aware of who that was,” former Matildas player Amy Chapman said on Optus Sport. “That was a very nasty tackle.”
Lucy Bronze also wiped out Caitlin Foord in what commentator Grace Gill described as a “blatant shove", while David Basheer said it was a “very iffy challenge”. Jess Carter also collected Kerr in the face with a ridiculous effort to get the ball while Kerr was attempting a header.
Chapman said it was a “ludicrous attempt to get to the ball”, while Steve Wilson commented: “Sam Kerr might just be getting the feeling that England are targeting her. That’s three times now."
England racked up nine fouls to the Matildas' one in the first half, and it didn't get much better in the second. The Lionesses left Aussies fans crying foul on a number of occasions late in the match with blatant time-wasting.
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson could be seen yelling "unbelievable" after American referee Tori Penso failed to pick up on England's blatant ploy. Only two yellow cards were dished out throughout the whole match, and the second one came in the 95th minute.
ABC journalist Isaac Nowroozi tweeted: “Ref left the cards in the change rooms," while one fan wrote: "Tori Penso should be ashamed and embarrassed for that absolutely poor showing as referee." Others described England's tactics as 'disgusting' and 'dirty'.
— Isaac Nowroozi (@isaacnowroozi) August 16, 2023
6 minutes of injury time is unforgivable for a game of this magnitude. England have fouled their way into the final. The ref wasn't there. #FIFAWWC
— Jeremy Limn (@JeremyLimn) August 16, 2023
— A random Aussie 🇦🇺🇺🇦 #SlavaUkraini (@0ldTraffordBird) August 16, 2023
With all the time wasted, you added only 6 minutes. You gave Lauren James only a 2 match ban for her demonic tackle against Alozie, so she could make possibly the final and now she will. This is beyond disgusting. Beyond disgusting. The World is watching. #FIFAWWC
— Esosa Osa (@esosaosa19) August 16, 2023
Honestly I can't believe how much England can get away with pushing in this game it's disgusting #FIFAWWC
— Boutros WSW (@bootyz333) August 16, 2023
The Matildas played this comp with Complete Class, something Dirty England can’t say after fouling their way through semi-final. Sad! Gutless Tori Penso will be booed out of the country. Australia is Proud of our Matildas. We’ll be back with a vengeance. Vamos España! #FIFAWWC
— CALE (@cmxdia) August 16, 2023
Matildas rue missed chances as World Cup dream crushed
Ella Toone gave England the lead in the 36th minute, before Kerr sent the crowd into a frenzy with an incredible long-range strike to equalise in the 63rd minute. But Kerr's heroics went in vain as Lauren Hemp scored eight minutes later to restore England's lead, before Alessia Russo scored England's third in the 86th minute.
Kerr missed two chances to equalise when the score was still 2-1, leaving her devastated. "It was one of those nights - I've said it before - tournament football is won and lost inside the 18 (yard box) and England was clinical tonight," Gustavsson said. "We had a chance for 2-2 and a couple of minutes later it was 3-1. It was one of those games, unfortunately."
— 7Sport (@7Sport) August 16, 2023
Gustavsson added of Kerr's stunning strike: "Knowing Sam, she probably thinks that goal wasn't worth anything. She wants to win and I'm happy for her that she got that. It proves who Sam Kerr is and what she can do. I also know that she's upset that she missed the two chances at the end of the game."
When do the Matildas play again?
The Matildas must now dust themselves off and get back up for the third-place playoff against Sweden on Saturday night at 6pm. Matildas' vice-captain Steph Catley said: "We do have another game. We were proud that we created history that we were able to get to a semi-final. But we ultimately believed that we could go all the way and do something really special."
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