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Women's World Cup: England's route to the final

England will play in their maiden Women's World Cup final when they take on Spain in Sydney on Sunday.

After winning last summer's European Championships, Sarina Wiegman's side have shaken off retirements, injuries and mixed form to battle through to the showpiece at Stadium Australia. 

In their way stands a talented and embattled Spain team, who have overcome their own issues over the last couple of years to join their opponents in standing a game away from their first-ever victory. 

La Roja recovered from losing 4-0 to Japan in their final Group C game to make it to the final but after last year's continental triumph on home soil, in which they beat Spain in the last eight, England may feel they have the momentum. 

Wiegman's team have reiterated their ability to battle it out, proving some of their doubters wrong by beating China 6-1 in the pool and saving their best showing for the semi-final.

WhatSpain v England, Women's World Cup final
WhereStadium Australia, Sydney
When11:00, Sunday 20th August
How to watchBBC One
OddsSpain 7/4, Draw 2/1, England 9/5


Sluggish pool progress

After a slew of injuries and some mixed performances in the build-up to the tournament, there was always a danger that the Lionesses could make a sluggish start and so it proved. 

A tricky Group D opener against debutants Haiti resulted in a 1-0 win courtesy of a Georgia Stanway penalty and a string of spectacular stops from goalkeeper Mary Earps. 

Another 1-0 win, this time over Denmark, followed, with Lauren James's sixth-minute strike the difference on another frustrating evening that was headlined by the loss of deep-lying playmaker Keira Walsh to a knee injury. 

After two mixed outings, and with Walsh's future participation in the tournament uncertain, Weigman chose to mix things up, switching to a back three for the group closer against China. 

First-half strikes from Alessia Russo, Lauren Hemp and James put the Lionesses 3-0 up at the break as cries of ‘ole' rang around the Hindmarsh Stadium in Adelaide. 

Although Shuang Wang pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after VAR picked up a handball against Lucy Bronze, James' second and further strikes from substitute Chloe Kelly and Rachel Daly confirmed a statement 6-1 victory and top spot in Group D.
 

England pass Nigeria test

Next up were Nigeria in the last 16, the Super Falcons fresh from 0-0 draws against Canada and the Republic of Ireland, either side of a shock 3-2 victory over co-hosts Australia. 

A James red card for stamping on Michelle Alozie's back demonstrated the frustration felt by Weigman's team in Brisbane as they failed to reproduce anything close to their performance against the Chinese. 

Both Ashleigh Plumptre and Uchenna Kanu hit the woodwork for Nigeria, while Earps was kept busy throughout as, despite Walsh's return, England could not find their rhythm. 

After going all the way to penalties, Georgia Stanway fired the opening spot-kick wide but Bethany England, Daly, Alex Greenwood and Kelly all converted to set up a quarter-final against Colombia. 
 

Colombia come calling but England shut them out

Again, England made hard work of it, Las Cafeteras' Leicy Santos opening the scoring with a cross-cum-shot from the right of the box after 44 minutes but Hemp equalised in first-half stoppage time after goalkeeper Catalina Perez had failed to gather the ball in the six-yard area under pressure from Russo. 

Russo grabbed the winner after 63 minutes, firing across Perez after latching on to Stanway's through ball to set up a semi-final with co-hosts Australia.
 

A first World Cup Final beckons...

Facing the Matildas at a sold-out Stadium Australia, it would have been easy for Weigman's team to capitulate but Toone put them ahead in the first-half with a superb driven first-time strike. 

Australia rallied, Sam Kerr smashing home a goal-of-the-tournament contender from 30 yards to make it 1-1, only for Hemp to capitalise on a mix-up in the home defence. 

Kerr then spurned a chance from a poorly defended set piece but England sealed their place in a first final, Hemp finding Russo, who converted, breaking home hearts after almost a month of 'Matildas Mania'.
 

Wiegman's stars set for Spain showdown

Sweden edged out Australia in Saturday's third-place playoff, but for England, it is all about Spain in Sydney on Sunday and a maiden world title.  

The Lionesses beat La Roja in extra-time of the quarter-finals at the Euros but take on a reinvigorated outfit, who beat the Swedes in Auckland thanks to captain Olga Carmona's late piledriver. 

Carmona is 14/1 to score again, with teammate Esther Gonzalez 21/10. Spain trio Aitana Bonmati, Jennifer Hermoso and Alba Redondo have all scored three goals in the tournament, as have Hemp, Russo and James, the latter who returns to contention after serving her ban for that red card against Nigeria. 

Like England, Spain are through to their first Women's World Cup Final and are 4/5 To Lift the Trophy, with the Lionesses 19/20
 

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