The Matildas have rallied around Ellie Carpenter as tears flowed over the broken dream of lifting the FIFA Women’s World Cup trophy on home soil.
Sam Kerr’s stunning second-half equaliser renewed Australia’s charge but England were back in front less than 10 minutes later, Lauren Hemp capitalising on Carpenter’s inability to clear a long ball.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Matildas’ dreams crushed in emotional post-match scenes.
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The contest was settled when England striker Alessia Russo added a clinical third against a makeshift defensive unit, taking the pressure off Carpenter’s earlier error.
But the Australian remained devastated after the full-time whistle.
Veteran goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who sees herself as the ‘mother of the group’, was quick to embrace the tearful Carpenter.
Heartbreak for Matildas as lethal England reach final
Tameka Yallop and Steph Catley also wrapped their arms around the 23-year-old, as Kerr vowed to support each and every one of her teammates and fight on.
“We’re all just really proud of each other and just wish we could’ve got over the line,” the skipper told Channel 7.
“But no matter what happens I wouldn’t want to be on any other team. This is my team, my mates, my best mates, I love them all to death.”
Matildas players put the disappointment aside when they walked as one to thank fans inside Stadium Australia for their support.
While the defeat will sting long after the players return to their clubs and begin a new domestic season, a top-four finish is a historic achievement.
The Matildas had never previously made the semi-finals of a Women’s World Cup, and their journey to the final four came after facing elimination in the group stage.
They will now dust themselves off for a clash with Sweden on Saturday night in Brisbane to decide third place, live and free from 5.30pm AEST on Seven and 7plus.
Hayley Raso, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley and Caitlin Foord reckon with the defeat in a quiet moment on the bench after the final whistle. Credit: Alex Pantling/FIFA via Getty Images
“Australia and the Matildas should be super proud, in particular their leader Sam Kerr,” Matildas great Heather Garriock said on Channel 7.
“Wow, she’s had an incredible tournament, she’s led from the front even though she hasn’t been on the field the whole time.
“She should be proud, the Matildas should be proud, and Australia should be proud of this team. They have created history, it’s absolutely unbelievable.”
Kerr managed a smile as she told Channel 7’s Adam Peacock of the disappointment laced with pride in her team.
“We just fell short (but) really proud of the girls for this whole tournament,” she said.
“I know it’s hard to say that now but just disappointment and immense pride too.”
The 29-year-old said she will regret missing a header that would have levelled the scores at 2-2.
But after playing the full 90 minutes against England, four weeks after suffering a calf injury that forced her to the sidelines, one thing is clear.
“I think I did everything I can to be back in this tournament,” she said.
“If I trained more than five times this World Cup maybe I would’ve sunk that.
“But I can’t put all the blame on myself, I have to think of all the things the team’s done and I’ve done to be where we are now and inspire the nation.”