The Matildas' Women's World Cup dream ended on Wednesday night, and for Australian pundits, long-time fans, and bandwagoners, it was a very tough pill to swallow.
The Aussie women had the hopes of a nation on their shoulders in the semi-final against England, but they fell to the eighth-ranked Lionesses 3-1 in front of a packed out Stadium Australia.
Despite a cracking second-half goal from skipper Sam Kerr in her first start for the Matildas in the tournament, the Lionesses were simply too strong, with goals to Ella Toone (36th minute), Lauren Hemp (71st minute) and Alessia Russo (86 minute) sealing victory.
"Heartbreak for the Matildas, but joy for England," Seven commentator David Basheer summarised.
"The question of what could have been will hang heavy for some time," co-commentator and former Matilda Grace Gill added.
Kerr slumped with her hands on her knees at the full-time whistle as 'Sweet Caroline' rang out following England's win.
"This is the worst part of World Cups - the moment you bomb out," ex-Matilda Elise Kellond-Knight said.
"It's so unfortunate because Sammy [Kerr] had two clear chances but she couldn't put it away."
Former Canberra United coach and Matildas great Heather Garriock felt it was a missed opportunity despite the team putting "football on the map" in Australia.
Kerr had two golden chances in the second half following her goal that the lethal striker would have normally put in the back of the net.
Quarter-final penalty shootout hero Cortnee Vine also had a brilliant shot on goal saved.
"It's the one that got away to be honest," Garriock said as many Matildas were in tears on the pitch. "I think we didn't convert our chances.
"They're upset. They knew they could have gone one better, but they weren't good enough tonight.
"The Matildas should be super proud though, in particular Sam Kerr, their leader.
"And Australia should be proud of this team. They've created history. It's absolutely unbelievable... what they've done for this country, and football in this country."
On Optus Sport, former Matilda Amy Chapman was scathing of the Aussie defence that let in the two late goals which decided the match, particularly left back Ellie Carpenter, for conceding the England goal that followed Kerr's belter.
"Seven minutes and 53 seconds it took for Lauren Hemp to put England ahead again, and I'm a big fan of Ellie, but that was a colossal mistake," Chapman said.
"A game-changing mistake from her not to deal with that."
The Matildas will now take on Sweden in the third-place match in Brisbane on Saturday night.
While it wasn't the silverware the Matildas sought at this World Cup, they still have the chance to leave with bronze.
"We can medal at a World Cup and that's not something we've done before," Kellond-Knight said.
Socceroos legend John Aloisi agreed that Australia should keep cheering on the Matildas for the showdown with Sweden.
"Let's go get third place, and let's keep building this game in this country," he said.
"You've seen over the last few weeks how it can unite a nation.
"That second-half performance showed what we can do.
"We'll remember that [quarter-final] night in Brisbane for the rest of our lives. Tonight wasn't quite the same but they did give us that belief with Sam Kerr, and that amazing goal."
The first half saw England dominate 57 percent of possession, with five shots on goal to the Matildas' three.
The Lionesses also tried to assert their dominance with plenty of physicality, earning Alex Greenwood the match's first yellow card for hacking at Kerr's legs.
The real concern for the Aussies though was the rusty chemistry of Kerr and Mary Fowler in the front third.
There were few clear chances for the Matildas going forward, and sitting deep, content in allowing England to control the match, they tempted the Lionesses one two many times.
England caught the Matildas defenders scattered and napping and Ella Toone put the ball in the top bins in the 36th minute to silence the crowd in Sydney.
In the second half the Matildas found the attack they were searching for, and when Kerr found space on a through-ball, she delivered a sublime strike to level.
As the crowd was just coming down from the high of Kerr's stunner, eight minutes later Hemp made the most of some bumbling defence from the Matildas to put England ahead again.
Then when Alessia Russo converted to extend England's lead later in the match, it was hard to see the Matildas coming back from there.
The result ended a magical run for the Matildas, with the impact of their incredible World Cup performance reaching every corner of the country, inspiring millions and putting women's sport on a pedestal.
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