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Australia advance to Women’s World Cup semis in thrilling shoot-out

France defender Elisa de Almeida made a superb block on the line from Mary Fowler’s shot in the 41st minut.—Getty

Co-hosts Australia secured a historic spot in the Women’s World Cup semifinals, edging past France in a captivating penalty shoot-out spectacle that will be etched in football history. 

The remarkable showdown unfolded at Brisbane Stadium, where the Matildas clinched a dramatic 7-6 victory in the shoot-out, following a goalless 120 minutes on the field.

During the enthralling match between Australia and France, goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold emerged as a pivotal figure, making four crucial saves during the penalty shoot-out. The twist-filled shoot-out saw Arnold thwart Kenza Dali twice, with the first save necessitating a retake due to an off-the-line movement. Astonishingly, Arnold herself had the chance to secure victory for Australia, but her attempt struck the post, keeping the nearly 50,000-strong crowd on a rollercoaster of emotions.

Amidst this high-stakes contest, it’s the Australian team that progresses, reaching their inaugural Women’s World Cup semi-final. With their eye-catching performance, they will face either England or Colombia in the semi-final clash scheduled for August 16 at Stadium Australia in Sydney.

Australia’s journey to the semi-finals was anything but straightforward. Initially appearing overwhelmed by the pressure, the Matildas gradually found their rhythm. An electrifying atmosphere fueled by a capacity crowd at Brisbane Stadium propelled them forward, culminating in a closely contested match. Although the game ended goalless after both regular and extra time, the penalty shoot-out delivered the dramatic conclusion that had eluded the preceding minutes.

France, despite their fervent efforts, couldn’t halt Australia’s progression. The contest featured standout moments, including goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin’s resilience despite early jitters, and a phenomenal last-minute sliding block by defender Elisa de Almeida. The introduction of soccer star Sam Kerr further heightened the tension, as fans rallied behind her efforts to push Australia to victory.

As Australia revels in its historic accomplishment, the world anticipates the upcoming clash that will determine their fate in the Women’s World Cup. The gripping tale of their progression serves as a testament to the unpredictable and exhilarating nature of football, showcasing how moments of triumph can emerge from the unlikeliest of scenarios.

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