How ‘experienced’ England fought back to beat Colombia (1:42)

Mark Ogden recaps England’s 2-1 quarterfinal win over Colombia at the Women’s World Cup. (1:42)

Tom Hamilton, Senior WriterAug 13, 2023, 06:38 AM ET


• Joined ESPN in 2011
• Covered two Olympics, a pair of Rugby World Cups and two British & Irish Lions tours
• Previously rugby editor, and became senior writer in 2018

SYDNEY, Australia – England are drawing on the lasting hurt from their semifinal defeat in the 2019 Women’s World Cup as motivation ahead of their final-four showdown with Australia on Wednesday.

The Lionesses booked a semifinal with co-hosts Australia thanks to their 2-1 victory over Colombia on Saturday in Sydney. The win means England have reached the semifinal of the World Cup for the third competition running.

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But the hurt of their 2-1 defeat to the U.S. women’s team at the semifinal stage in 2019 stays with the players. Lucy Bronze said she replays that loss every single day through her mind, and captain Millie Bright said it’s a loss that’s lingered with her and she wants to bury those memories with victory on Wednesday.

“I think as much as you look forward – and for us our mentality is always looking forward – when you play in tournaments those moments always stay there and you always want to correct them,” Bright said. “For us, the game is in a very different place and as a team we’re in a very different place. We look forward now, it’s a new challenge and new opportunity.

“You definitely learn from it but the game’s in such a different place that a lot has changed since then. Everything is different – the crowd, the atmosphere, the teams, the quality of the tournament. Everything is at a new level so as much as you still carry some of that with you at this point you’ve already learned a lot so for me it’s always about looking forwards.”

England’s fans were significantly outnumbered by Colombia’s supporters on Saturday, and it’ll be the same again on Wednesday in the Sydney Stadium. Bright hopes they can use that hostility as motivation.

“The atmosphere was incredible but as players we want that, we want sold-out stadiums, we want it to be tense out there,” Bright said. “As a player you thrive off of that and for me that’s adrenaline.

“For me, no matter who the fans are, you’re actually quite proud of it as well, we want that in a World Cup, we want it to be people turning on the TV and saying ‘god, look at the crowd, it’s incredible.’

“As a player you feel that and you use it to your advantage as well, it’s not a disadvantage that there might be a lot of Australia fans there.”

The match gives Bright a chance to come up against her Chelsea teammate Sam Kerr. The Australia superstar missed the group stage of the Matilda’s campaign through injury, but scored in their penalty shootout win over France on Saturday in Brisbane.

“She’s brilliant, I think the world already knows that, I don’t think they need me to reiterate how good she is,” Bright says. “She shows that on a regular basis. We’ve got great players too.

“They’re a brilliant team but so are we. As soon as we step over that white line she’s the opponent and there’s a job to be done.”