Great Britain suffered a heartbreaking extra-time defeat in the Olympic women’s football quarter-finals as Chelsea’s Sam Kerr dealt the final blow to give Australia a dramatic victory.
In a frantic encounter, GB’s Ellen White scored a hat-trick, while Manchester City team-mate Caroline Weir had a penalty saved in extra time before Australia scored twice.
Kerr’s 89th-minute equaliser had forced extra time before Australia teenager Mary Fowler’s heavily deflected strike crushed GB’s momentum after Weir’s penalty miss.
Hege Riise’s side were rocked when Kerr rose above GB captain Steph Houghton to head in a fourth for Australia, but White responded to set up a nail-biting finale.
GB went in search of an equaliser but it did not come and White covered her face at full-time as she crouched to the turf at the Kashima Stadium.
Australia will face Sweden, who beat Japan 3-1, in the semi-finals on Monday.
Emotional rollercoaster as GB fall short
Riise’s rollercoaster of emotions on the touchline were felt by those watching from home as GB went from elation to heartbreak within minutes.
The Norwegian was on her feet, kicking the ball into the net with White when the Manchester City striker pounced on a loose ball to smash in her second in normal time to put GB 2-1 up.
White sprinted away, roaring passionately at her team-mates as GB celebrated wildly on the touchline.
But with a first Olympic semi-final moments away, Kerr showed composure in the box before firing in a devastating equaliser, taking the game to extra time.
Riise was biting her nails and pacing on the sidelines as GB regrouped – Keira Walsh’s ferocious strike was tipped over the bar before White was denied from close range in extra time.
Australia keeper Teagan Micah produced the goods again moments later, diving to her left to palm away Weir’s penalty.
And when substitute Fowler’s effort deflected heavily off Lucy Bronze and looped over Ellie Roebuck’s head, GB’s players looked crushed.
Kerr rose higher than Houghton to nod in a fourth and, despite White’s heroic efforts, it was not enough to get GB back into the game.
White and Kerr in the spotlight
White’s determination to keep GB in the game was evident when she spun away celebrating deliriously after ruling out Alanna Kennedy’s first-half opener.
GB’s top scorer had barely touched the ball in the first half but made her presence known with a superb looping header before instinctively adding a second nine minutes later.
She has often been a lifeline for England and now Great Britain, but even a third goal from her – a sixth overall in the tournament – was not enough to send them through to the semi-finals.
Instead, it was Kerr who had the last word, once again proving why she is one of the deadliest strikers in the world.
In a game of fine margins, Australia came out on top and will need Kerr to maintain her impressive standards when they take on high-flying Sweden.
‘We wanted gold, we wanted to win’ – reaction
Great Britain head coach Hege Riise: “We are devastated right now. It’s hard to lose a game like this. We were well prepared. We [played] most of the game quite well.
“We created a lot of chances. We should probably have finished a few of them, and now it’s just hard.
Great Britain’s Leah Williamson: “To score after going 4-2 down, we showed so much character, so I didn’t think it was out of reach, which makes it harder because it hits you like a train at the end.
“We didn’t just want to come here and celebrate being Olympians. We wanted gold. We wanted to win.”
‘They gave absolutely everything’ – analysis
Former England forward Sue Smith on BBC One
I’m just really gutted for Team GB. They gave absolutely everything in that game.
It changed with the missed penalty, but I don’t want to criticise Caroline Weir because she’s had a brilliant tournament.
Australia played their game, they took their moments and they’ve been clinical. Sam Kerr was excellent again and they go on.
- 2BronzeBooked at 45minsSubstituted forStanwayat 112′minutesBooked at 120mins
- 3StokesSubstituted forBrightat 58′minutes
- 4WalshSubstituted forIngleat 97′minutes
- 12DalySubstituted forKirbyat 58′minutes
- 8LittleSubstituted forScottat 80′minutes
- 15HempSubstituted forParrisat 96′minutes
- 5LuikSubstituted forGielnikat 80′minutes
- 16RasoSubstituted forLogarzoat 88′minutes
- 10van Egmond
- 17SimonBooked at 69minsSubstituted forFowlerat 80′minutes
- 9FoordSubstituted forCooney-Crossat 80′minutesSubstituted forPolkinghorneat 108′minutes
- 2KerrBooked at 26mins
- Salima Mukansanga
Match ends, Great Britain Women 3, Australia 4.
Second Half Extra Time ends, Great Britain Women 3, Australia 4.
Foul by Sophie Ingle (Great Britain Women).
Sam Kerr (Australia) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Georgia Stanway (Great Britain Women) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Foul by Georgia Stanway (Great Britain Women).
Stephanie Catley (Australia) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Attempt blocked. Caroline Weir (Great Britain Women) left footed shot from outside the box is blocked. Assisted by Fran Kirby.
Corner, Great Britain Women. Conceded by Chloe Logarzo.
Sophie Ingle (Great Britain Women) wins a free kick in the defensive half.
Foul by Emily Gielnik (Australia).
Goal! Great Britain Women 3, Australia 4. Ellen White (Great Britain Women) header from the right side of the six yard box to the high centre of the goal. Assisted by Fran Kirby with a cross following a corner.
Corner, Great Britain Women. Conceded by Clare Polkinghorne.
Attempt blocked. Nikita Parris (Great Britain Women) header from the centre of the box is blocked. Assisted by Caroline Weir with a cross.
Corner, Great Britain Women. Conceded by Stephanie Catley.
Corner, Great Britain Women. Conceded by Chloe Logarzo.
Substitution, Great Britain Women. Georgia Stanway replaces Lucy Bronze.
Attempt saved. Lucy Bronze (Great Britain Women) right footed shot from outside the box is saved in the centre of the goal. Assisted by Caroline Weir.
Nikita Parris (Great Britain Women) wins a free kick on the left wing.
Foul by Chloe Logarzo (Australia).