BRISBANE, Australia — Mackenzie Arnold's impact on Australia's biggest Women's World Cup moment was so immense that it's hardly surprising it took vanquished France coach Herve Renard to describe it best.
“We came up against a Goliath of a goalie. What a game,” Renard said.
Australia won a penalty shootout 7-6 against Renard's team after their quarterfinal ended 0-0 in regulation and extra time on Saturday.
Arnold was “the winning factor,” the French coach acknowledged, “both in normal time but also in extra time and then during the shootout.”
Indeed. Arnold was instrumental in Australia advancing to the semifinals for the first time and ending the so-called curse of the host nation.
Cortnee Vine, playing in her first World Cup and going on late as a substitute, was the 10th in a line of 11 penalty takers picked for Australia. She strode to the spot, aiming to finish off where two of her teammates couldn't, and calmly converted to give the Matildas a famous victory.
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The Australians became the only hosts other than the United States to win a quarterfinal in nine Women’s World Cups.
Arnold kept the Matildas in the game in extra time and made three clutch saves in the shootout — before and after missing with her own attempt that could have sealed the win.
“I will remember this night for the rest of my life,” she said. “That is the craziest game I’ve ever played, considering what was on the line.
“It’s going to take a long time to really realize what has happened and what I’ve done and what the team has done. I’m just super proud to be Australian right now.”
The quarterfinal match transfixed Australia. Fans at other stadiums, in other sports, watched live broadcasts on giant screens. The evening news was delayed by the host broadcaster so everyone Down Under had a chance to watch the game on free-to-air TV. The Australians had another capacity crowd of almost 50,000 in Brisbane, after crowds exceeding 75,000 for two wins in Sydney.
Renard said his lineup did well considering it was a squad of 23 against 26 million rivals: “I would like to take the opportunity to congratulate them, congratulate them for the performance that they pulled off today against an entire nation. There were a couple of things that could have gone the other way.
“From the day we got to Australia and right until the very bitter end ... we have no regrets," he said.
Australia had lost all three of its previous quarterfinals at Women's World Cups and went into the knockout game under intense pressure knowing that six of the previous hosts were eliminated at the quarterfinal stage, including France in 2019. Australia is co-hosting the tournament with New Zealand.
The French were playing in the quarterfinals for the fourth consecutive time but its only win remains its first, beating England on penalties in 2011.
ENGLAND 2, COLOMBIA 1: Alessia Russo fired England into the semifinals with a victory over Columbia in Sydney.
The Arsenal striker’s second-half goal completed a come-from-behind win for the Lionesses after Leicy Santos had given the Colombians a first-half lead.
Lauren Hemp equalized before halftime and Russo struck the winner in the 63rd minute as England advanced to the semifinals for the third straight time.
Sarina Wiegman is now a step closer to her second consecutive Women’s World Cup final after her Netherlands team was runner-up to the United States in 2019.
England lost in the semifinals in 2015 and 2019, going out to Japan and the United States respectively.