England were overwhelmed by Colombia fans – not by their team in Stadium Australia.
But it was tough reaching the Women’s World Cup semi-finals – far tougher than the European champions might have anticipated against the lowest-ranked team remaining in the tournament.
Just squeezing out a 2-1 win was satisfying for Sarina Wiegman and her side – a fifth successive victory on this World Cup odyssey.
After all, this has been the tournament when footballing stature has repeatedly been trampled over by ambitious opponents without the same track record of success.
And now standing in the way of a first World Cup for the Lionesses is an Australia side energised by the backing of a home crowd that probably never anticipated such a deep run in the tournament.
Football fever has swept this nation like never before.
“It’s probably going to be bigger than I imagine now,” Wiegman said. “So I’ll talk to my players and staff and see what that rivalry is then. I think the Australians and English can get along really well.
“We have had such a warm welcome here and we really enjoying our time here in Australia and I actually really like the people here, but that doesn’t mean there’s no rivalry, so we’ll see that Wednesday.”
England are certainly in familiar surroundings now, having spent five weeks in Australia – a time that has seen every previous former champion be knocked out.
Wiegman’s side had to cope with falling behind for the first time in this tournament before Lauren Hemp scrambled in an equaliser in first-half stoppage time.
A clinical finish from Alessia Russo sealed the 2-1 victory over Colombia.
The forward said: “I think you’re in those moments a lot as a striker, it’s kind of what you train for.
“You have a split second to take a shot and I knew I wanted to go across the goalkeeper with as much pace as I could and fortunately it went in.”
Resilience was demonstrated in holding onto the lead, particularly given the fervour of the Colombian support in front of more than 70,000 fans.
But there will be a wariness about facing Australia who have progressed further than ever before at a World Cup.
They are the only team to have beaten England since Wiegman took charge in 2021.
While the England fans are already singing “Football’s coming home” in Sydney, there’s a long way to go to bring this World Cup home for the first time.
Especially with Australia determined to keep it here – by pulling off the ultimate World Cup upset.