Moving Sam Kerr pays warm tribute to Matildas team-mates after thrilling World Cup run against England comes to an end
An emotional Sam Kerr said her Australian side had inspired the host nation despite the crushing disappointment of a 3-1 loss to England in the semi-finals of the Women’s World Cup on Wednesday.
The Australian skipper and talismanic striker scored a stunning goal to slip the home side past 75,000 in Sydney, before England pulled away with two late goals to set up a final against Spain.
The Matildas still have one game to play, against Sweden on Saturday to decide the third. Whatever happens, it’s the best World Cup in Australia’s history.
On top of that, the team’s feats of reaching the last four for the first time captivated Australia and won them legions of new fans.
Kerr, who missed a golden chance to equalize for the second time just a minute before Alessia Russo netted England’s third goal, said: “I can’t blame it all on myself- even.”
An emotional Sam Kerr says the Matildas inspired Australia at the World Cup
England qualified for the World Cup final after beating Australia 3-1 on Wednesday
The Matildas will face Sweden in the third-place game in Brisbane on Saturday
“I have to think about everything the team has done, and I have done, to be where we are now and inspire a nation.
‘It’s just really disappointing. But no matter what, I wouldn’t want to be on another team. It’s my team, my friends, my best friends, I love them all to death.
The Matildas collapsed eight minutes after Kerr’s goal, Lauren Hemp put England back in front before Alessia Russo finished things up to make it 3-1 at Stadium Australia.
“She’s a winner and I’m glad she scored,” Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson said.
“We have to support her, she did everything she could to dig deep and the fact that she was able to play 90 minutes (it was huge)
“Who knows what it would have been like if she had been healthy?”
It was a brave call from Gustavsson to choose Kerr, given that her team had managed to rise to the occasion without her.
The Chelsea striker missed the group stage with a calf injury before being reinstated with 10 minutes against Denmark and then around an hour against France in the quarter-final victory.
Kerr scored a superb equalizer for the Matildas with a superb effort from 25 yards out, but missed two glorious chances to equalize again for Australia after England’s second goal.
Alessia Russo scored England’s third goal immediately after Kerr failed to put the game to bed
But Gustavsson rolled the dice and the stage was set for Australia’s greatest goalscorer to stand tall.
Kerr did his part and his inclusion naturally drew England’s extra attention.
Alex Greenwood was booked after ramming into the Australia captain in the 10th minute and Jess Carter narrowly avoided hitting Kerr in the head as they battled for possession.
Barring a chance offered by Katrina Gorry in the first five minutes, for which Kerr was ruled offside, Australia could not get her into the zones to challenge England.
When it was time to move quickly, they would recycle play on the pitch or when they needed to wait for support in central areas, they would cross and hope.
The Matildas thrive on quick transitions but were far too pedestrian before and after England’s Ella Toone scored the opening goal in the 36th minute on the back of a sloppy Australian defence.
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At one goal with an hour up, Australia began to threaten and Gorry opened for the Lionesses.
She played Kerr and rather than slide the ball easy towards Caitlin Foord, the Australian skipper took on teammate Millie Bright before unleashing her shot past Mary Earps.
For eight minutes the stadium began to believe that a meeting with Spain in Sunday’s final was possible.
Kerr hung on to a handful of chances but England were clinical with Hemp and Russo burying their opportunities with the Matildas campaign.