LONDON (AP) — As the eruption of excitement dissipated and the dancing died down Wednesday afternoon, some England soccer fans watching the Women’s World Cup back home were already starting to prepare for the final.
England advanced to the championship match for the first time, one year after winning its first European title. The Lionesses will play Spain on Sunday at Stadium Australia in Sydney in the first all-European final since 2003.
“I will definitely be back on Sunday,” said Dani Beazley, a 51-year-old England fan who watched the team’s 3-1 win over Australia in the semifinals at a fan zone in south London. “I’m with my daughter and my sister. The reaction in the whole place is unbelievable. The place erupted. It was just brilliant.”
Revellers at the fan zone at Croydon Boxpark jumped on tables and started dancing after the final whistle.
Fans at the Big Penny Social venue in London cheered, hugged and danced after each of England’s three goals. Strobe lights flashed as the game ended with England victorious.
“We’re going to the final!” 29-year-old England fan Charlotte Dubec shouted after the match.
Dave Adams, a 49-year-old England fan, said the achievements of the women’s national team has been building.
“Success in the (European Championship last year) and then obviously the professionalization of the league improved everything and it’s a wonderful thing,” Adams said. “Everything’s on a very positive trajectory for the women’s game.”
Other fans watched Wednesday’s match at Killamarsh Dynamos, the former club of England captain Millie Bright.
Mischa McDonald, a 12-year-old girl who attends Bright’s former school, was one of them.
“It was amazing, so nervewracking, but I’d predicted 3-1 before the start,” McDonald said. “I know we’ll do it and I think Millie will lift the cup like Leah Williamson did (at the European Championship).”
Former England striker Gary Lineker, the top scorer at the 1986 World Cup, called it an “absolutely superb performance” by the Lionesses.
“A World Cup final. A World Cup final at football. It’s been a while. What a wonderful achievement,” Lineker wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
The last time an England team reached the World Cup final in soccer was at the men’s tournament in 1966, beating West Germany 4-2 in extra time.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wrote: “Just one more game to go… Bring on Sunday.”
Not everyone watching in the British capital was happy with the result, however.
Jacob Rohr, a 25-year-old Australian who lives in London, said he was “heartbroken” but added that the Matildas had exceeded expectations.
“It does make it worse,” Rohr said, “being over here and the English beating us.”
Associated Press reporter Kwiyeon Ha contributed to this report.