Soccer

I honestly can’t believe it – Lucy Bronze overwhelmed as Lionesses reach final

Lucy Bronze (right) helped the Lionesses reach the World Cup final (Isabel Infantes/PA)
Lucy Bronze (right) helped the Lionesses reach the World Cup final (Isabel Infantes/PA) Lucy Bronze (right) helped the Lionesses reach the World Cup final (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Defender Lucy Bronze was overwhelmed after England beat Australia 3-1 to reach their first Women’s World Cup final.

Ella Toone, who replaced the suspended Lauren James for the Lionesses’ quarter-final win over Colombia, scored 36 minutes into her second start of the tournament in front of a capacity crowd of 75,784 in Sydney.

Australia captain Sam Kerr, making her first start of competition, equalised for the first-time semi-finalists with a stunning individual goal after the break before Lauren Hemp put England back out in front.

Alessia Russo and Lauren Hemp were both on target
Alessia Russo and Lauren Hemp were both on target Alessia Russo and Lauren Hemp were both on target (Isabel Infantes/PA)

Alessia Russo added another late in the second half to cap off the historic encounter and set up an all-European final showdown against Spain on Sunday night.

Bronze told BBC One: “This is the one thing I’ve always wanted, to be in the final of a World Cup and after two times of getting such disappointment, I honestly can’t believe it.”

When asked what manager Sarina Wiegman said about the game in the post-match huddle, Bronze added: “We played the game how we wanted to, we were resilient, determined, I couldn’t hear much else she was saying, to be honest!

“We knew the crowd were going to be crazy tonight and she was saying about silencing them and I feel like we did that at the end after the third goal.”

Bronze also felt the support the Lionesses have received has been “unbelievable”.

She added: “We all dreamed of being in the final and all our family and friends booked here to stay until the final because they believed in us. To have everybody here and all that support is unbelievable.

“It’s been amazing to play against Australia, what a fantastic tournament they had, but I’m so happy to get to the final.”

Sunday’s final sees Bronze and Keira Walsh pitted against some of their Barcelona team-mates and the defender praised Spain’s performance in the tournament.

She said: “They’ve been very good. Me and Keira know 90 per cent of the starting 11 pretty well so I think we’ll be getting asked a lot of questions ahead of the final.”

England coach Sarina Wiegman also hailed her team’s ruthlessness to make it to the final.

Sarina Wiegman hails England's ruthlessness
Sarina Wiegman hails England's ruthlessness Sarina Wiegman hails England’s ruthlessness (Zac Goodwin/PA)

She said: “We achieved the final and it’s unbelievable, it feels like we’ve won it.

“But we won this game, it’s an incredible stadium, an away game, of course it was a hard game but again we found a way to win.

“We scored three goals, in this team that ruthlessness, whether it’s up front or in defence we really want to keep the ball out of the net, we really want to win and we stick together. We stick to the plan and it worked again.

“The chance as a coach you make it to two finals is really special, I never take anything for granted but I’m like – am I in a fairytale or something?”

Captain Millie Bright also praised the team, adding that making the final is a moment that England have wanted.

“I think it’s a moment that we’ve wanted for so long, we had amazing success last summer, but we always knew there was something missing and it was the World Cup,” she said.

“Now we have that opportunity and like Less (Russo) said before, the dream remains alive. What an incredible semi-final.”

Bright will lead the team out on Sunday and admitted it will feel “incredible”.

“Crazy, to be honest I’m just keeping two feet on the ground and remaining on task and focused,” she said.

“I don’t even have any words for that, to be saying we’re going to the final is crazy and overwhelming – there’s so many different emotions.

“Just so happy we could give the fans the dream they wanted back home and the fans that are here as well, but to lead them out will be absolutely incredible.”