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Emotional Kerr says Australia inspired nation with World Cup run

An emotional Sam Kerr said her Australia side had inspired the host nation despite the crushing disappointment of a 3-1 defeat to England in the Women’s World Cup semi-final on Wednesday.

Australia’s skipper and talismanic striker scored a stunning goal to drag the home side level in front of 75,000 in Sydney, before England pulled away with two goals late on to set up a final against Spain.

The Matildas still have a match left, against Sweden on Saturday to decide who comes third. Whatever happens, this is Australia’s best World Cup ever.

On top of that, the team’s exploits in reaching the last four for the first time have captivated Australia and won them legions of new fans.

Kerr, who missed a golden chance to equalise for a second time just a minute before Alessia Russo scored England’s third goal, said: “I can’t put all the blame on myself.

“I have to think of all the things the team have done, and I have done, to be where we are now and to inspire a nation.

“It is just really disappointing.”

Kerr was named in Australia’s starting line-up for the first time at the World Cup following a calf injury.

The 29-year-old Chelsea forward, who was supposed to have been the face of the tournament but saw her game time severely restricted by the injury, said their historic run into the last four should be the catalyst for broader change.

“I can only speak for the Matildas but we need funding in our development, we need funding in our grassroots,” she told reporters at Stadium Australia.

“We need funding, you know, we need funding everywhere.”

That call was echoed by Australia’s coach Tony Gustavsson, who was nevertheless proud of his players and said European champions England had been more clinical on the night.

“I hate to lose,” said the Swede, adding that he was looking at the bigger picture of what the Matildas had done over the past few weeks in attracting fans to women’s football.

“I’ve said it before — it’s bigger than 90 minutes of football.

“We’re very disappointed that we lost, but hopefully we won something else — we’ve won the heart and the passion for this game in this country.”

England will play Spain on Sunday, also at Stadium Australia.

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