(Photo by Chris Hyde - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Nerves of Steel: Matildas Hold Firm to Edge France and head to Semi Finals

The Matildas battled France to a dramatic 0-0 draw after extra time before winning an epic penalty shootout to advance to their first ever Women's World Cup semifinal.

The Matildas and France could not be separated after 120 grueling minutes in their quarterfinal clash at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. A dramatic penalty shootout was required to decide the winner, with substitute Cortnee Vine converting the winning spot kick to send Australia through to the semifinals for the first time in history.

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson kept faith with the same starting XI that dispatched Denmark 2-0 in the Round of 16, lining up in a 4-4-2 formation with Mary Fowler and Emily van Egmond as the central striking duo.

France came flying out of the blocks and looked the more dangerous team early. Kadidiatou Diani was a constant threat, nearly opening the scoring when Alanna Kennedy scuffed a clearance but did just enough to put the French striker off, with her shot whistling wide.

Maelle Lakrar – the only change made by French coach Herve Renard from their win over Morocco – should have put Les Bleues ahead when the ball fell to her a few meters out from a corner, but she skied her effort over the crossbar.

The Matildas began to grow into the game and fashioned a couple of half-chances, but couldn’t test French keeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin. Fowler had Australia’s best look at goal in the first half, pouncing on a loose ball in the box but firing her shot straight at the keeper.

The second half saw France continue to control possession and territory, but Australia defended stoutly to keep them at bay. Emily Gielnik came off the bench and provided a spark for the Matildas, taking players on and winning a couple of free kicks in dangerous positions, but Australia couldn’t make the most of the opportunities.

Extra time brought more nervous moments for both sides. Diani should have won it for France in the 115th minute but somehow headed wide from point blank range. The Matildas had penalty appeals waived away late on when Fowler appeared to be bundled over in the box.

And so to penalties it went, with Vine scoring the decisive fifth penalty for Australia after Claire Lavogez had her attempt saved by Lydia Williams. The Matildas held their nerve, scoring all five spot kicks to advance to the semifinals in the most dramatic of fashions.

Owen George
Owen George

Editor & Chief of Gold Coast Magazine is a lover of great coffee and sharing the stories of the people, places, and events that make the Gold Coast such a great city

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