Australia 0-0 France (7-6 pens) – Women’s World Cup LIVE: The Matildas make it into the semis for the first time ever after Mackenzie Arnold’s heroics and Cortnee Vine’s winning goal
Follow Mail Sport’s live blog as Australia take on France in the Women’s World Cup quarter-final from Suncorp Stadium.
Aussie wheelchair tennis champion Dylan Alcott has shared footage online of the moment he watched the winning penalty with the caption ‘My god that was the closest I’ve ever been to standing up. UNBELIEVABLE effort.’
The winner of tonight’s England vs Colombia game awaits Sam Kerr and her teammates.
Their semifinal is schedule to kick off at 8pm AEST on Wednesday at Stadium Australia in Sydney.
You’re looking at a photo of the happiest people in Australia, taken just a few minutes ago as Cortnee Vine created an insane piece of sporting history.
That was the longest penalty shootout in Women’s World Cup history. What follows could be the longest celebration in Matildas history.
Even if the rest of the tournament doesn’t go their way, they’ve already given Australia a sporting memory that will never fade. What a watershed moment for the women’s game in this country.
Seven’s commentators are reporting that grown men in the crowd are crying. Anthony Albanese looks close to tears of joy and Sport Minister Anika Wells is crying.
And that’s coming from John Aloisi, who knows a thing or two about scoring penalties under incredible pressure.
Arnold was enormous during regulation and extra time, but her play in the shootout was a thing of beauty. She saved the first shot, then was able to get over missing a shot of her own and having a save called back for coming off her own line. She reacted to the second setback by producing another great save straight away to kick off absolute pandemonium on and off the pitch.
WHAT a win!
Aloisi goes on to say this match will inspire a future generation and he’s hit the nail on the head there.
Fine shot from Vine but make no mistake – Mackenzie Arnold is the hero here. What an effort from the Aussie keeper!
Arnold didn’t have to do anything there as Becho makes a meal of it.
Hunt could’ve won it there but her shot is blocked by Durand, who doesn’t have to move far to her right to get to the ball.
The shot had to be re-taken after the initial save was struck off. But Arnold keeps her composure and saves it again!
That went in off the post and Carpenter gives the crowd a huge rev-up.
This time Arnold goes the wrong way and the French retain their advantage.
Tameka Yallop took it nice and easy with that run-up and sent the keeper the wrong way. Five-all in the shootout.
Frane’s Karchaoui nails it pretty much down the middle and while Arnold gets a touch on it, it’s not enough.
How much more of this can we take? Durand got a hand to that but it speared off her palm into the back of the net thanks to the power it was struck with.
Geyoro stutters her run and Arnold is complaining that she stopped during the process of taking the kick, but the penalty stands.
The keeper hits the post with a well-struck shot.
That one is off the post after what looked like a touch from Arnold and the crowd has lost its collective mind.
They checked to see if Arnold came off her line, but no worries there.
It’s like she took out her frustrations from the earlier missed chances with that strike. Absolutely crushed it low and to the keeper’s right.
She sent Arnold the wrong way with that one. Mary Fowler is up now.
Talk about looking unruffled. That was cold from Kerr, going to the goalie’s left and striking it with just enough pace to beat Durand.
Wendi Renard with a quality shot there. Sam Kerr up next.
Steph got hold of that one but Durand – brought on specifically for the shootout – dives to her right and gets a piece of it.
She froze Mackenzie Arnold there with what looked like a pretty casual shot. All three penalties so far have gone low and to the right of the keeper.
Advantage Australia! The French keeper, like Arnold, picks true and dives to her right – but not low enough as Foord smashes it home.
Arnold picked it correctly, diving to her right to save Selma Bacha’s shot!
France’s last corner comes to nothing and we’re in for the most drama-packed end to a game of Matildas football ever.
The French sub gets around Ellie Carpenter with ease and strikes with power – but Arnold is perfectly positioned and the keeper gathers it up without fuss.
France bring on their reserve goalie Solene Durand.
Caitlin Foord wins that one and Steph Catley takes it but it deflects back towards the halfway line and the chance comes to nothing.
Four more minutes…
A great touch from Sam Kerr gives Carpenter the time to consider her shot and she puts it on Hunt’s boot right near the post – but she can’t quite get hold of the deflection and it goes out of bounds for a goal kick.
The veteran utility takes the field as Cooney-Cross’s replacement. It’s the first time she’s played in the World Cup after picking up an injury when the Matildas beat the French in their warm-up match shortly before the tournament began.
Bacha is brought down in the box thanks to a great challenge from Caitlin Foord – and after some deliberation, the officials make the right call.
That took about a year off the life of every Aussie who watched it. The stand-in skipper might’ve saved the World Cup for the Matildas there as she got the ball away just inches from the goal line with the defence in disarray.
Alanna Kennedy is being treated by medical staff after picking up a head knock during that passage of play but she seems OK.
Incredible save there to deny a well-struck ball from Vicki Becho. Arnold got a hand on it and forced it over the bar, which wasn’t easy, because that was a rifle shot off the boot.
The first 15 minutes of additional time gave us more drama than an entire season of MAFS as the Aussies got ripped off with a corner kick ruling, France scored, then had the goal rightly disallowed – then Vine barely missed, drawing a shout from the crowd that might just have shown up on the Richter scale.
Cortnee Vine came oh so close there as she got on the end of a great cross from Foord, but steered it about half a foot wide of the post under intense pressure from the French keeper.
How that was ruled a corner to France is beyond us – the ball had clearly gone out of bounds. Had that French goal stood, it would have been a seismic controversy – but the ruling that Caitlin Foord was held back when France scored was bang on the money.
What was obviously a goal kick to Australia is ruled a corner to France and the ball is put into the back of the net by Renard, only for it to be disallowed.
She did very well to take the ball away from France on their right wing and lets fly with an off target cross which, even if it had gone where she wanted it to, wouldn’t have found any of her teammates.
Elisa de Almeida’s header flies wide to the left of the Aussie goal and there’s a collective sigh of relief from the crowd.
The Matildas opened the second half on fire but have so far been outplayed in the first stanza of extra time.
Katrina Gorry gives this one away with what we’ll patriotically call an over-enthusiastic tackle but the French don’t come close to worrying Mackenzie Arnold.
The Socceroos legend thinks the Aussies look ‘leggy and tired’ compared to the French, who have used their substitutes throughout the tournament far more than Tony Gustavsson. Eight Matildas players have clocked up more than 300 minutes in the World Cup so far – fingers cross that doesn’t come back to bite the team.
The French win the toss to begin extra time.
Just a reminder: there will be a five-minute break followed by two 15-minute periods of extra time.
Got any fingernails left? This shapes to be a frantic period of extra time and France keeps the ball in the box with the Aussies unable to make a decisive clearance until an offside call relieves the pressure.
Fowler put it on a platter for Kerr there but the striker couldn’t take advantage. The Aussies retain possession and look to manufacture another chance but the pressure ends with a long-distance shot sailing over the bar.
The coach’s only replacement has been Kerr for van Egmond – following the pattern of other games when he’s been very slow to put fresh feet on the pitch. That was even the case when the Matildas were desperately seeking goals as they trailed Nigeria.
She made a strong run down the right flank, jostling with a defender at top pace, before Foord appealed for that penalty. If anyone had any doubts about lingering effects from the calf injury holding her back, she has erased them.
Great body positioning and strength from Foord in the box and she picks up a bit of a shirt tug as she’s sandwiched between two defenders.
Fair play to the ref for not giving the Aussies a spot kick there. Alanna Kennedy’s jersey grab in the first half was far worse.
Hopefully this post will soon be redundant because the Matildas score two quick-fire goals, but here goes…
If scores are deadlocked at the end of regulation time, we go to a five-minute break, followed by two 15-minute periods of extra time.
Should the teams still be even on the scoresheet, it’s penalty shootout time. Each team will have five shots to break the deadlock. If those shots don’t decide the winner, the shootout becomes a sudden-death affair.
A free kick followed by a corner are both repelled by the Aussies before Ellie Carpenter shows great pace down the wing on a counterattack before being dispossessed.
That was France’s best attempt at turning the screws on the Aussies in the first half and Mackenzie Arnold’s punch from the corner was a nice bit of work.
She’s been on for around five minutes but the skipper’s impact was huge from the get-go, from her outstanding first run to her involvement in creating the chance for Fowler.
Just what you’d expect of the superstar many good judges rate the best women’s player in the world.
Kerr is attracting a host of defenders whenever she gets the ball and that opens it up for Fowler, who has yet another clean shot on goal – but in what’s becoming this game’s version of Groundhog Day, still can’t quite get it into the net.
What follows is another sustained period of pressure from the Aussies, with Kerr heavily involved as they force another corner. That’s dealt with well by Les Bleues, who at first look to go on the counterattack, then settle things down a bit before making progress down the right and forcing a corner of their own.
The biggest roar of the night so far as the superstar striker comes on and she wastes absolutely no time creating big problems for the French with a great run and cross. Hayley Raso gets the ball in some clear space and produces a sledgehammer of a strike that is only kept out by a great save from the French keeper.
Talk about having an immediate impact!
Diani made big inroads down the left and forced Clare Hunt to give away a corner with a fine bit of defence to defuse the situation.
A shocking fail from the French as they try to clear the ball gives Fowler possession just inside the box. She bamboozles two defenders with some tight footwork but can’t get the shot home.
Seconds later Fowler has another shot on goal but once again, it’s not to be. A much stronger start to the second half compared to the first for the Matildas.
Fans were clamouring for the striker to come on in the first half and it seems they’re not far off getting their wish as another huge cheer from the Brisbane crowd goes up while Kerr jogs on the sideline.
Fowler draws a foul to set up a free kick about seven metres outside the box. Alanna Kennedy rifles it but it crashes into the French wall.
While possession was very even at 47% to the Aussies, 53% to France, Les Bleues dominated the shots on goal 9-3, and had four corners to the Matildas’ two. However, the Aussies have been far more accurate with their shots at 66% compared to the visitors’ 25%. Both sides have conceded three fouls apiece.
Mary Fowler’s first missed opportunity was followed by a second, with Peyraud-Magnin blocking it with her body from point-blank range. That’s two chances gone begging in quick succession – and she was far from the only person in Suncorp Stadium left covering her face with her hands.
French keeper Peyraud-Magnin rushed off her line during the first of Fowler’s chances and seemingly left the goal wide open – but Elisa de Almeida arrived in the nick of time. Should Les Bleues get the result, she’ll be hailed as a miracle worker for that one.
Mary Fowler has a diamond of a chance in front of goal but it’s kicked clear by a desperate French defender in a stunning bit of football. The Matildas star never saw her coming.
Steph Catley couldn’t get the ball through a tangle of French legs right in front of goal after a corner kick – and the Aussies couldn’t penetrate the defence when the ball was cleared, either.
A free kick sees the French goalie punch the ball over the sideline and suddenly the Matildas are building some sustained pressure for the first time in the match.
There’s not a great deal between the sides but the visitors have been manufacturing more attacking chances, with one – the ricochet off Maelle Lakrar right in front of goal after Le Sommer’s ball during a corner – their best opportunity to score.
The terrier-like star just had what could politely be called an open and frank exchange of ideas with the referee after she and Katrina Gorry both hit the French with strong challenges that were a fraction late.
Good header to clear the ball from the Matildas – but a second header by Steph Catley goes out and gifts Les Bleues another corner. This one goes to the back corner, then to ground, and Le Sommer smashes it towards the right post, where it ricochets off Maelle Lakrar and goes over the crossbar.
The midfielder drops to the turf and grabs at her ankle in obvious pain. Her French opponent dragged her studs town her Achilles – but the Aussie soon gets back up.
The French star was ripped off there – just before firing a shot about a metre wide across the goal, she was clearly held back by Alanna Kennedy, who grabbed her jersey. The Matildas defender won’t get away with many more like that.
Hayley Raso puts pressure on the French defence as she streams down the right flank, forcing Les Bleues to almost concede a corner through a hurried ball back to the goalkeeper.
An instant later the action is back down the home side’s end and Ellie Carpenter does well to break up the play.
France get the show started and the Aussies make a patient beginning to the match, content to move the ball around in defence while waiting for an opportunity to advance.
Diani gets behind the Matildas defence down France’s left wing but the raid is stifled by an Alanna Kennedy header.
We’re just moments away from the game the whole country will be glued to.
A sure sign the action is almost upon us – with fans treated to a rendition of Waltzing Matilda in one of Australia’s Indigenous languages.
Matildas supporters are out in force at the many live sites around the country – with fans in Melbourne getting the incredible news that 12,000 of them will be able to watch the action on the big screen at Rod Laver Arena. The roof there will come in handy with rain forecast in the city tonight – but you can bet everything you own that won’t stop thousands from rocking up to Federation Square to see the Aussies in action.
Gustavsson has barely rotated his squad during the tournament so far – giving his substitutes the fewest minutes of action of any team in the Cup. Eight players including big guns Foord, Kennedy, Gorry and Catley have played more than 300 minutes.
That stands in stark contrast to the French, with coach Herve Renard using 21 of 23 players for a far more even spreading of the workload.
But the Aussie boss isn’t worried about the impact on his players if the match goes into extra time, saying he believes what they’re putting their bodies through is similar to the week-in, week-out grind of club football.
Les Bleues will begin the match with Pauline Peyraud-Magnin (goalie), Sakina Karchaoui, Wendi Renard (c), Maelle Lakrar, Elisa de Almeida, Selma Bacha, Grace Geyoro, Sandie Toletti, Kenza Dali, Eugenie le Sommer and Kadidiatou Diani.
On Friday the Socceroos legend warned Tony Gustavsson he ‘may never forgive himself’ if he benched Sam Kerr for the start of the quarterfinal, saying the ‘best striker and goalscorer in women’s football’ has to ‘play from the opening whistle’.
Despite the fact Kerr looked to be moving freely during Friday’s training session, the striker will have to come on as an impact player against Les Bleues – but it’s a safe bet she’ll get more playing time today than she did against Denmark, when she only saw action very late in the contest.
Gustavsson has gone with: Mackenzie Arnold (goalie), Steph Catley (captain), Caitlin Foord, Emily van Egmond, Mary Fowler, Alanna Kennedy, Clare Hunt, Hayley Raso, Katrina Gorry, Ellie Carpenter and Kyra Cooney-Cross.
Tony Gustavsson has gone with the same starting XI that beat Denmark 2-0, meaning Sam Kerr will begin the match on the bench for the second game in a row.
Thanks for joining us for the most important game of football in the Matildas’ history… so far.
Fingers crossed we start the blog for the semifinal against the winner of tonight’s England vs Colombia match with the same sentence.
Stay with us for all the latest updates and team news as Sam Kerr and her teammates try to make history by beating Les Bleues at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, with kickoff about an hour away.
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