When Sam Kerr entered the field after 80 minutes, the Australian fans cheered as loudly as if another goal had been scored for their Matildas. The captain's first appearance at this World Cup in time for reaching the quarter-finals fuels the co-host's hopes of winning the title.
Kerr: "Only the beginning of our journey"
"It was a great relief to be back on the pitch. I'm very proud of the team," said superstar Kerr on ARD after the 2-0 (1-0) win in the World Cup round of 16 against Denmark. "We have a big dream, but we're taking it one game at a time." In the quarter-finals, the Matildas will meet France or Morocco in Brisbane on Saturday (9:00 a.m. CEST), who will play for progress this Tuesday in Adelaide (1:00 p.m. CEST/ZDF).
After the victory shot out by Caitlin Foord (29th minute) and Hayley Raso (70th), the 29-year-old Kerr addressed a few motivating words to her teammates on the pitch: "We said that this is just the beginning of our journey ", reported the world-class striker. An announcement that the whole continent should be happy to hear, in addition to the 75,784 fans in Sydney's Australia Stadium. The euphoric hosts are now all the more to be expected thanks to the recovered Kerr.
England suffered a bit, beating Nigeria 4-2 on penalties. Lauren James, the Lionesses' top scorer of the tournament so far with three goals, said goodbye to 49,461 fans at the Brisbane stadium with an unnecessary assault from the game - maybe even from the tournament. Her red card in the 87th minute drew comparisons with David Beckham on the island.
Gary Lineker tweeted that James caused a "Beckhamian moment of madness" by kicking Michelle Alozie who was lying on the ground. The football legend was referring to the 1998 men's World Cup, when Beckham - also in the round of 16 - had kicked out Argentina's Diego Simeone and received a red card. England were eliminated on penalties at the time, with fans and press blaming Beckham as the culprit.
England now against Colombia or Jamaica
This time, the motherland of football got even further. "We showed what we're capable of," said Chloe Kelly of the English team's sluggish performance. The substitute had converted the decisive penalty. In the quarter-finals, the Lionesses will meet Colombia or Jamaica in Sydney on Saturday, who will play each other in the round of 16 in Melbourne this Tuesday (10:00 a.m. CEST/ZDF).
Despite the loss, Nigeria coach Randy Waldrum was pleased with the Super Eagles' strong showing. "We had the best chances, we hit the crossbar twice. When it comes to penalties it's a game that can go either way," said Waldrum. Desire Oparanozie and Michelle Alozie had lost their nerve from the point, on the English side only Bayern's Georgia Stanway missed.