Sarina Wiegman said she feels as though she is “living a fairy tale” after her side ended English football’s 57-year wait for an appearance in a World Cup final by beating co-hosts Australia 3-1 on a historic night in Sydney.
In the process, Dutchwoman Wiegman reached her fourth major final in a row as a coach, after winning 2017’s European Championships with the Netherlands, taking the Dutch to the 2019 World Cup final and lifting 2022’s Euros with the Lionesses. She also became the first coach to reach two Women’s World Cup finals with two different countries.
Speaking in her post-match press conference at Stadium Australia, the 53-year-old said: “I can hardly describe how proud I am of the team, how this team has adapted all the time, before the tournament, during the tournament and this game, how we come through and find a way to win is incredible.”
Wiegman, who is still yet to lose a competitive match in charge of England two years in her role, said immediately after the match that it felt “unbelievable” to get through, adding: “It feels like we won the whole thing but we didn’t. An away game at this incredible stadium, it was a hard game but again, we found a way to win.”
Asked how it feels to be the first coach to lead two different nations to the showpiece that awaits England on Sunday, she replied: “I don’t know! The chance that as a coach you make it to two finals is really special, we made it to four already – it’s like I’m living a fairy tale or something?!”
For more from Serena Wiegman’s post-match press conference, go here.
What and when is it?
The World Cup final is the single biggest fixture in international women’s football. The tournament is assured to have a new winner this year with Spain or England both aiming to lift the trophy for the first time.
The final is on Sunday August 20, with the game kicking off at 11am UK time (8pm Sydney local time).
Where is the match being played?
The final will be played at the Stadium Australia in Sydney.
How to watch
The final will be show on both BBC One and ITV1.
Broadcasting rights for the Women’s World Cup are being shared between BBC and ITV. It was ITV who broadcast England’s quarter-final win but the BBC had the rights to broadcast both semi-finals.
How did the teams reach the final?
Lauren Hemp’s second-half strike helped fire England into their first World Cup final as the Lionesses sealed a 3-1 victory over co-hosts Australia.
Ella Toone, who replaced the suspended Lauren James for England’s quarter-final win over Colombia, scored 36 minutes into her second start of the tournament in front of a crowd of 75,784.
Sam Kerr, making her first start of competition, equalised for the first-time semi-finalists with a stunning individual goal after the break before Hemp put England back out in front.
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.
England are now one win away from lifting two major trophies in just under 13 months after their triumph at last summer’s European Championship.
Earlier in the week, Olga Carmona struck late to lift Spain to a thrilling 2-1 win over Sweden in the other semi-final.
Carmona’s 90th-minute strike from long-range pinged off the crossbar and into the goal two minutes after Rebecka Blomqvist had levelled the match for Sweden.
Salma Paralluelo, the quarter-final hero against the Netherlands, put Spain in the lead with the opening goal in the 81st minute, breathing life into what had been a slow-burning, cagey affair.
Who is in England’s squad?
Goalkeepers: Mary Earps (Manchester United), Hannah Hampton (Aston Villa), Ellie Roebuck (Manchester City)
Defenders: Millie Bright (Chelsea), Lucy Bronze (Barcelona), Jess Carter (Chelsea), Niamh Charles (Chelsea), Alex Greenwood (Manchester City), Esme Morgan (Manchester City), Lotte Wubben-Moy (Arsenal)
Midfielders: Laura Coombs (Manchester City), Jordan Nobbs (Aston Villa), Georgia Stanway (Bayern Munich), Ella Toone (Manchester United), Keira Walsh (Barcelona), Katie Zelem (Manchester United)
Forwards: Rachel Daly (Aston Villa), Bethany England (Tottenham Hotspur), Lauren Hemp (Manchester City), Lauren James (Chelsea), Chloe Kelly (Manchester City), Katie Robinson (Brighton & Hove Albion), Alessia Russo (Manchester United)
What are England saying?
Speaking after the semi-final, Sarina Wiegman added: “When you make the first final, you think that’s really special and it might not happen again. Then you make a second, a third, a fourth, but all the time you think ‘this might not happen again’, because the competition is so hard and there are so many teams that can win the title, that it is very special, so I do know that.”
Later in her press conference, she looked somewhat sheepish when asked about ending Australia’s own ‘fairy tale’, saying simply: “I’m sorry!”, before adding: “Australia have done an incredible job, they really grew into the tournament.”
Asked how much her team has grown since lifting that trophy 13 months ago, Wiegman – who was the only female head coach left in this competition by the quarter-final stage – added: ‘‘So many things have changed. The expectation in England has been high all the time, but after winning the Euros, it went up, but I also think the lives of the players have changed a lot. They really had to adapt to a new life which bring lots of very good things but also some challenges because everyone wants something from you, but you still have to perform and we always said ‘performing brought us to where we are right now and performing will keep us where we are’, and that’s what we trying to do.”
What are the odds for the World Cup final?
When is the third-place play off?
The two losing semi-finalists, Sweden and Australia, will play each other for the honour of winning the bronze medal in the World Cup.
Sweden have finished third in the previous two editions of the tournament, but it is Australia’s first time in the semi-finals. The play-off takes place at Lang Park in Brisbane pm Saturday August 19 at 9am BST.
It will be available to watch on ITV website as well as BBC iPlayer.
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