Australia superstar Sam Kerr started her first match of the tournament and scored for the Matildas but it wasn’t enough to hold off European champion England.
Ella Toone scored in the 36th minute to put England up 1-0 and the Lionesses dominated possession in the first half.
Kerr’s equaliser in the 63rd gave the 75,000-plus crowd some hope, but England sealed it on goals from Lauren Hemp in the 71st and Alessia Russo four minutes from the end of regulation time.
England and Spain will each be playing in the Women’s World Cup final for the first time when they meet at Stadium Australia on Sunday. It will be the first all-European final since 2003.
Australia will play Sweden for third place on Saturday in Brisbane.
England were playing in the semifinals for the third consecutive Women’s World Cup and Australia were in the final four for the first time.
It showed, particularly in the first half and in the last 20 minutes.
England had a harder edge, were more clinical when it counted and played a game that deprived Australia of possession for long periods of time.
The Australians seem to have played their final in the 7-6 penalty shootout win over France last weekend, their first win in four quarterfinals in the Women’s World Cup.
Australia had to wait five games for Kerr to join the starting lineup in her home tournament because of a calf muscle injury she sustained on the eve of the tournament.
After being subdued by England’s defense in the first half, the superstar striker made a big entrance with an equaliser just after the hour. Kerr took the ball on half way, moved up-field in a solo run and wrong-footed a defender before launching a right-foot shot from outside high that took a lightly touched defender Mille Bright before into the top left corner.
Kerr started making inroads but England responded quickly, with Hemp running onto a long ball into the area and scoring with a left-foot finish after Australia’s Ellie Carpenter over-ran the ball.
Kerr missed a chance to equalise again with a header of the crossbar in the 82nd and England made them home team pay for the miss, with Russo finishing it off for England.