England have reached their first ever Women’s World Cup final - thanks in part to Lauren Hemp’s sensational performance against co-hosts Australia in the last four

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World Cup diary: England beat Australia to reach final

Lionesses superstar Lauren Hemp has stepped out of the shadows - and is making the business end of this World Cup her own.

The plaudits rained down on the Manchester City striker after her all-action player-of-the-match show in Sydney. Hemp burst onto the scene as a young teenager and her progress was stellar in the early years of her career. But she spent the Euros trailing behind Beth Mead and Alessia Russo and, until her sending-off against Nigeria, Lauren James was the talk of the tournament.

The Norfolk-born Hemp, however, really cemented her place with an improved display against China when coach Sarina Wiegman changed it up in Adelaide. She said: “I feel like I came into this competition with so much belief, and I just want to be fearless, I just want to show what I can show on the world’s biggest stage.

“As a group, everyone has brought the best out of me. Everyone is pushing me to try and be better and I feel like the group has brought the best out of me.

“I’ve sort of taken up a new role, I guess, in the team, running in behind players and getting the ball, creating something, and I feel really fearless at the moment. I feel like I’m playing some of my best football. Obviously there’s so much more still to show.”

Lucy Bronze saw the teenage Hemp when she arrived at Man City and had a few well-chosen words for her at the end of 90 octane-fuelled minutes at Stadium Australia. She said: “I think Hempo has put in some unbelievable performances. Everyone thought she was just about scoring goals but she does some of the hardest work of everyone on the pitch. You don’t normally get that from your strikers!

“A lot of people put a lot of expectation on her in the Euros, even though it was her first tournament. Now you’re seeing what kind of a player she is. After she scored the goal, she turned around to me and said: ‘I think I’ve found a new position!’ I replied: ‘Yeah, I think you might have.’ I’m super happy for her.”

Lauren Hemp was England's matchwinner against Australia Lauren Hemp was England’s matchwinner against Australia (


Getty Images)

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There have been occasions in the 4-3-3 system favoured by head coach Wiegman where the 23-year-old has looked lost. But she, as much as anyone, has profited from the new formation that was introduced against China. Instead of hugging the touchline it has enabled her to be more direct - running at opponents, committing them.

It helps that she has a rapport with Alessia Russo, two of the new Arsenal striker’s goals have come via her team mate. Rachel Daly was less circumspect a the final whistle, saying: “Oh my god, she was a joke! Honestly, I said to her at the end, that’s the best I’ve ever seen you play. She was so, so good. That girl is frightening and she’s got so much room to grow. She’s only going to get better. It’s quite scary.”

Australia coach Tony Gustavsson was unsure how England were going to line up against the Matildas ahead of the semi-final. He wondered if the Lionesses would revert to the system that saw them lift the European Championship. But with such positive results coming from it for so many players - including Hemp - the chances are receding fast.

The most succinct words came from Ella Toone. “Lauren’s just a nuisance,” she said. “She runs in behind, she comes to feet, she’s fast and she’s strong. I think she’s just a nightmare to play against.”

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Get the England 2023 home shirt here

Show your support for The Lionesses throughout the FIFA Women’s World Cup with the latest England home shirt. Mixing the classic with the contemporary, this shirt is being worn by the team as they bid to add a World Cup to their incredible European Championship triumph in 2022.