Substitute Courtnee Vine emerged as Australia’s heroine on Saturday as the hosts advanced to the semi-finals of the women’s World Cup for the first time following a nerve-shredding penalty shoot-out victory over France.
The match at the Brisbane Stadium finished goalless after 90 minutes. And it was the same score after 30 minutes of extra-time – virtually the same amount of time needed to settle the tie from spot kicks.
Twenty of them were taken before Tony Gustavsson and his side could celebrate following Vine’s decisive shot to the right of the France goalkeeper Solene Durand who was brought on to replace Pauline Peyraud-Magnin for the shoot-out.
That strike was third time lucky for the hosts.
Goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold could have clinched the tie 15 minutes earlier when she took the fifth kick but her shot cannoned off the right hand post.
Her miss sent the shoot-out into sudden death and the three following takers all scored.
Arnold thought she had set her side up for victory when she saved Kenza Dali’s effort.
But the video assistant referee ordered a retake because her feet were not behind the goal line before the ball was struck.
In the event, Arnold saved the second attempt to give Clare Hunt the chance for glory.
But the 24-year-old defender botched that opportunity. She was redeemed when Vicki Becho’s strike hit the left hand post and rolled to safety.
Vine, who had entered the fray in the first period of extra-time, ended the suspense with a crisply dispatched kick.
“I’ve won some and lost some penalty shoot-outs,” said France boss Hervé Renard after the 7-6 defeat.
“That’s the way it goes. We’ve got to be proud of our performances. Congratulations to my staff who have done well. Congratulations also to Australia and good luck to them for the rest of the tournament.
“My team played well in a stadium that was against us and now we have to look forward to our next challenge which is the Olympic Games.”
After a first-half in which France dominated, the Australians had the better chances in the second-half.
Hayley Raso brought a good save from Peyraud-Magnin in the 55th minute and four minutes later Mary Fowler shot straight at the goalkeeper.
But Renard’s side withstood the barrage and finished the game with more poise.
The French carried that composure into extra-time and appeared more likely to score as Australia – roared on by the vast majority of the 50,000 spectators – began to tire.
Becho was denied by Arnold moments before Australia survived a goalmouth scramble.
Australia will play the European champions England after they came from behind to beat Colombia 2-1 in Sydney.
Leicy Santos gave the South Americans the lead in the 44th minute but Lauren Hemp levelled in the seventh mimute of first-half stoppage time.
Alessia Russo gave England the lead in the 63rd minute and Sarina Wiegman’s side held on to move into last four for a second consecutive international tournament.
“Colombia are a top top team and they have shown more than that this World Cup,” Russo told the British broadcaster ITV.
“They have so many talented players who can cause you trouble in a second It’s going to be exciting against Australia. What more do you want? Colombia had a great fanbase here tonight so we’e had a taste of what the support is going to be like.”
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