Australia’s magical World Cup run reaches semis after wildest penalty shootout in tournament history

It took 20 penalties, multiple posts and French agony.

It took the longest and wildest shootout in World Cup history, men’s or women’s.

But at the end of a quarterfinal marathon, with 49,000 people standing in Brisbane, Australia stormed into the 2023 Women’s World Cup semifinals in ecstasy.

For 120 minutes on a Saturday evening, the nation had risen and fell with a back-and-forth game. After goal-line clearances and stunning saves somehow kept it scoreless, a penalty shootout offered up an entire tournament worth of drama.

Both keepers made saves. In Round 5, Mackenzie Arnold made a second, tipping Ève Périsset’s strike onto the post. Arnold herself then stepped up for a would-be winner — but also pinged the post.

So on went the marathon. In Round 6, Grace Geyoro and Katrina Gorry powered in their penalties. In Round 7, France’s Sakina Karchaoui smashed hers in off the crossbar. In Round 8, Australia’s Ellie Carpenter snuck hers in off the left post.

In Round 9, Arnold saved from Kenza Dali — but a video review annulled her heroics because her feet had left the goal line a split-second too soon.

Then, on the retake, she denied Dali again, putting Australia on the brink of history.

But French keeper Solène Durand, who’d entered the match as a 120th-minute substitute specifically for the shootout, kept out Clare Hunt’s would-be winner with a remarkably strong left hand.

Then up stepped 19-year-old Vicki Bècho, who’d helped swing the balance of the game in France’s favor as a second-half substitute. She sent Arnold the wrong way — but struck the base of the post.

So up stepped Cortnee Vine, who, with the 20th take of the shootout, won it.

Her teammates sped toward her as French counterparts froze at the midfield line, hearts and bodies broken.

Australia coach Tony Gustavsson wept as 49,000 in Brisbane and probably millions elsewhere erupted.

They erupted in Sydney, where thousands had gathered at Olympic Park.

They erupted in Melbourne, where flares immediately ignited at Federation Square.

They erupted all over Brisbane, hours after an inspiring send-off outside the team hotel.

“Thank you!” Gustavsson bellowed into a camera minutes later. “You are part of this win. … You belong to this team tonight. Every single person in this country.”

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