Australia Edges France to Reach Semifinals for First Time

Australia edged France on penalty kicks Saturday to reach the Women’s World Cup semifinals for the first time.

Cortnee Vine took Australia’s 10th penalty from the spot and calmly converted to give the Matildas a 7-6 win in the shootout after the quarterfinal match finished 0-0 after regulation and extra time.

The Australians missed two earlier chances to clinch a dramatic shootout, but ultimately it didn’t matter as they ended a long curse for tournament hosts. The Australians became the only team other than the United States to advance past the quarterfinals of a Women’s World Cup as the host nation.

Australia will play either England or Colombia on Wednesday in Sydney for a spot in the final.

Australian goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold kept the Matildas in the game in extra time and made a string of clutch saves in the shootout — before and after missing with her own attempt that could have sealed the win.

Both teams had chances to win it in regulation, and Sam Kerr’s first meaningful appearance of the tournament for Australia triggered a surge in tempo from the Australians but ultimately no goals.

The French team celebrated momentarily in extra time when it appeared Australian defender Alanna Kennedy’s misdirected header from a corner kick had produced an own goal, but referee Maria Carvajal immediately disallowed it. Carvajal ruled that France captain Wendie Renard had pulled the jersey of Australian forward Caitlin Foord in the area.

It would have been a contentious goal, regardless, with France awarded the corner despite the ball seeming to go out off Vicki Becho in the 10th minute of extra time.

Becho fired a shot early in the second period of extra time that Arnold pushed over her right post. She also blocked shots from Grace Geyoro and veteran striker Eugenie Le Sommer late to take the game to a shootout, momentarily quieting the 49,461-strong crowd.

Arnold blocked the first shot diving to her right in the shootout.

Foord took Australia’s first shot, calmly slotting it past France’s replacement goalkeeper Solene Durand.

Steph Catley missed with Australia’s second shot and Renard stepped up and converted despite a chorus of booing from the crowd to give France a 2-1 lead.

Kerr made it 2-2, and Le Sommer fired a shot low inside the right post to give France a 3-2 lead.

Mary Fowler equalized and Arnold saved for Australia and, after making another save, Arnold lined up for her own shot in an attempt to win it for the hosts. She missed.

At 6-6, Kenza Dali had two chances for France, both stopped by Arnold. The first went to video assisted referee, and the retaken penalty was well saved by Arnold.

Clare Hunt missed a chance to win it for Australia, with Durand getting a hand to her shot directed straight down the middle.

After Becho curled her right-foot shot into the left post, Vine stepped up to make it third time lucky for Australia.

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