Matildas Create History with Thrilling Penalty Shootout Win Over France

Matildas Create History with Thrilling Penalty Shootout Win Over France
Photo Credit: Instagram/CommBank Matildas

Buoyed by a spirited home crowd at Lang Park, the Matildas etched their name into the annals of Women’s World Cup history with a nerve-wracking penalty shootout victory over France in the quarter-finals. Playing on home soil, Australia became the first host nation to reach the semi-finals since the USA in 2003.

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Shootout Drama Follows Tense 120 Minute Draw

Cortnee Vine
Cortnee Vine, the winning penalty shooter. Photo Credit: Instagram/CommBank Matildas

Normal time and extra time failed to produce a goal in the Brisbane Stadium clash between two formidable sides. Australia and France battled through a scoreless 90 minutes before two intense periods of extra time. Fatigue set in late on, and a shootout between the deadlocked sides seemed inevitable.

The shootout provided non-stop drama and set a record for the longest shootout in World Cup history for both men’s and women’s matches. Australian goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold made a crucial save from Selma Bacha’s opening effort to give France the early advantage. After a series of saves and misses, Australia’s 10th shooter, Cortnee Vine, slotted home the winning penalty as the home crowd went wild.

Semifinal Spot Creates Matildas Legacy

Mackenzie Arnold
Mackenzie Arnold was awarded Player of the Match for her crucial saves in the shooutout. Photo Credit: Instagram/CommBank Matildas

The victory sends Australia through to the semi-finals for the first time ever. They’ll face classic sporting rivals England, 2-1 winners over Colombia, at Stadium Australia on Wednesday.

Beyond this milestone, Australia’s World Cup run marks a watershed moment for women’s sport in the country.

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Their penalty shootout victory attracted the biggest Australian TV audience since Cathy Freeman’s Olympic gold medal in 2000. The audience was reported to be the largest for more than two decades, averaging a staggering 4.23 million viewers. These figures do not include the throngs of fans who gathered in fan parks, pubs and around big screens to cheer on the Matildas.

John Aloisi, whose penalty in 2005 sent the Socceroos to their first World Cup since 1974, remarked: “This achievement will undoubtedly inspire future generations. That’s what the girls spoke about before the tournament, that’s what they’ve been speaking about during the tournament. And they’re living this moment.”

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Breaking Through the Glass Ceiling

After years of heartbreak and falling just short, this victory propels the Matildas into uncharted territory. The demons of the past have been exorcised, the bitter memories of their devastating penalty shootout exit at the Round of 16 in France 2019 now a distant memory.

In the three World Cups prior to 2019, they reached the quarter-finals without fail, but progressed no further. The quarter-finals had long acted as the glass ceiling for the Tillies. Not anymore.

Published 14 August 2023