The Lionesses would be forced to contest their quarterfinal fixture against Colombia without Lauren James, with the Chelsea starlet subject to a two-match ban for serious foul play. Her absence made space for Ella Toone to return to the starting lineup, as Sarina Wiegman’s side prepared to face the surprise package of the tournament thus far.
ENG: Earps; Greenwood, Bright, Carter; Daly, Walsh, Stanway, Bronze; Toone, Hemp, Russo
COL: Pérez; Vanessa, D Árias, Carabalí, C Arias; Bedoya, Ospina; Caicedo, Santos, Esme; Ramírez
As expected, las Cafeteras commenced this quarterfinal clash with their physical nature very much on display, yet the Lionesses still progressed through their resolute defence to force two early chances. Lauren Hemp and Alessia Russo both saw efforts blocked by the Colombian backline, though the offside flag was promptly raised regardless.
Another golden opportunity for England presented itself just before the half-hour mark, as Alex Greenwood’s corner delivery sailed through the box to find Georgia Stanway waiting on the far side. Her ball back into the area picked out Rachel Daly, but the Aston Villa star could only point her header straight at Catalina Pérez.
But as the half matured, the Colombians began to assert their dominance on the fixture. The ever-impressive Linda Caicedo danced through the English defence, though her shot from inside the box was collected with ease by Mary Earps.
Las Cafeteras converted those late chances into the opening goal of the match just minutes before the half-time interval, as Leicy Santos danced past Rachel Daly on the right flank before firing a ball into the box. What looked like a deep cross caught Mary Earps off-guard, with the ball floating over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net to really put England under the cosh.
England took full advantage of the six additional minutes of stoppage time though, firing home an equaliser just seconds before the culmination of the first half after a scramble in the penalty area. Alessia Russo’s initial effort from close-range looked to be smothered by Catalina Pérez, though the goalkeeper failed to grasp the ball tightly enough – allowing Lauren Hemp to poke home the all-important equaliser that would surely define Sarina Wiegman’s half-time team talk.
With the hour-mark fast approaching, a free-kick on the left looked to pose a threat to the Colombian defence once again as Georgia Stanway opted to slide the ball down the flank to Lauren Hemp. The Manchester City star attempted to drill a cross into the centre of the box, though Catalina Pérez did well to avert the danger and snatch the ball out of the air.
Merely five minutes later, the Lionesses found their all-important second goal through Alessia Russo. Having played a crucial role in England’s equaliser, the new Arsenal striker found herself involved once more – hammering a ball across the face of goal and into the far corner following Georgia Stanway’s well-weighted pass.
But the Colombians weren’t to bow out that easily, and a long-range strike from Lorena Bedoya forced Mary Earps into producing a stunning save to maintain England’s advantage. The resulting corner eventually found the midfielder once more, though this time she blasted her effort miles over the crossbar.
Colombia remained desperate in their search for an equaliser, with Leicy Santos darting down the left flank before attempting to fizz a cross into the box – Mille Bright was perfectly positioned to deny that chance though, allowing England some momentary respite from the seemingly relentless Colombian attack.
Colombia’s pressure seemed to know no bounds, as las Cafeteras continued to test the Lionesses throughout the dying stages of eight minutes of stoppage time – though Linda Caicedo flashed their best effort over the bar.
Despite finding themselves trailing after Leicy Santos’ stunning first-half goal, Sarina Wiegman’s England were able to rescue a late strike in the first half – and Alessia Russo fired the Lionesses into the lead in the second half. With the final whistle blown, Colombia’s hopes of yet another monumental upset shattered, and it’s England that progress to the semifinals. They’ll face Australia on Wednesday.