Three days after scrapping past a stubborn Iran side, the Matildas have rediscovered their groove by defeating the Philippines 8-0 in front of a record crowd at Perth Stadium as their Olympic qualification campaign charges onwards.
Hat-tricks to Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord were complemented by goals to Mary Fowler and Clare Wheeler in both halves as head coach Tony Gustavsson fielded his strongest line-up for the first time since the World Cup.
In front of a sellout crowd of 59,155 at Optus Stadium on Sunday, Kerr and Foord scored first-half braces as Australia took a 5-0 lead into the break.
Kerr secured her hat-trick just 24 seconds into the second half when she headed home a pin-point cross from Mary Fowler for her 68th goal from 127 internationals.
Foord notched her own hat-trick in the 56th minute when she danced around an opponent on the by-line and nailed her shot from a tight angle.
The result thrust the Matildas to the top of Group A on six points, meaning all they need is a draw against Chinese Taipei next Wednesday to guarantee progression to the final stage of qualification in February.
Even with a loss the Matildas would either top the group or at least qualify as the best runner-up from the three Asian confederation groups.
The only concern from Sunday’s match was an injury to substitute Cortnee Vine, who came off in the 75th minute with what appeared to be a hamstring issue 10 minutes after coming on.
“It’s amazing to play here in front of a packed crowd,” Kerr told channel 10 after the match.
“I think everyone came out here and gave 100 per cent. We worked our butts off today, that’s for sure.”
The Matildas rested most of their biggest stars in Thursday’s 2-0 win against Iran, but they wheeled out a full-strength outfit against the Philippines in a match that would effectively decide the group winner.
Kerr, Foord, Mackenzie Arnold, Steph Catley and Fowler were among the 10 changes, and it didn’t take long for the floodgates to open.
Fowler opened the scoring in the 15th minute courtesy of a clever deflection from Foord.
And the crowd went into a frenzy when Kerr scored from close range in the 19th minute following a superb run by Foord, who beat two opponents before dishing off the assist.
Kerr turned provider for the next goal when she expertly controlled Fowler’s lobbed pass before dishing off to Foord to score in the 30th minute.
Foord added another three minutes later when she held off an opponent before sliding a shot past the goalkeeper as she was falling to ground.
Kerr made it 5-0 on the stroke of half-time when she found herself one-on-one against the goalkeeper and blasted the ball into the back of the net.
The Matildas skipper headed home Fowler’s cross just 24 seconds into the second half, and it was party time in the 56th minute when Foord evaded an opponent to secure her hat-trick.
Kerr, Hayley Raso, Kyra Cooney-Cross and Katrina Gorry were subbed off in the 65th minute with the job done, but substitute Clare Wheeler ensured the party continued with a 72nd-minute rocket from the edge of the box to secure her maiden international goal.
The world number 44 Philippines, coached by Western United boss Mark Torcaso, came from behind to beat Chinese Taipei 4-1 in their group stage opener, but they were simply no match for the Matildas.
Read how the match unfolded in our liveblog below.
Thanks and ciao
It’s been a joy bringing you tonight’s incredible performance from the Tillies. The teal away kit really does give them special powers.
Their final match against Chinese Taipei kicks off at 10:00pm AEDT on Wednesday night, and you bet your butts I’ll be back on the blog for what is hopefully another convincing outing from the gals.
Until then, have a great start to your week, and I’ll see you then!
We couldn’t have asked for much more than that, could we?
Eight goals, including five in the first half. A clean sheet. Two hat-tricks. A record crowd.
The Matildas’ path towards qualification for the Paris Olympics next year seems like just a matter of time.
A completely dominant performance, especially from the returned World Cup heroes.
While the second-half fizzled out somewhat after a raft of changes, which is something the team will need to sort out moving into the third round of qualifying against much tougher opposition, for now there’s not much more that could’ve been better.
23 shots, 12 on target, 76% possession, 689 passes, 5 corners.
And a very, very happy Perth crowd.
Full-time: Australia 8 – 0 Philippines
93′ Sayer isn’t giving up!
The young midfielder comes charging into the six-yard box head-first, trying to connect with a fizzing cross from Carpenter from the byline.
But the ball is just too quick and Sayer – as well as everybody else – misses it completely.
92′ Emily Van Egmond could’ve capped it off
The Philippines are basically blue training cones now; they’re barely able to track back or keep up with the Matildas.
Emily Van Egmond and Ellie Carpenter exchange a couple passes, with the substitute kinda just walking towards the top of the box without any pressure. She has so much time to open her body up and take a shot, but for some reason tries to pass through to Foord, who’s standing offside anyway.
The ball trickles away. Weird moment.
Four minutes of stoppage time
And the Matildas are still hunting for a ninth goal, bless ’em.
A deep free kick by Catley finds the head of Amy Sayer this time, who flings her dark ponytail at it totally unchallenged near the six-yard area, but it’s an awkward connection and bounces well over the crossbar.
So still a ways to go
Hi Sam, just checked on Wikipedia and it’s about the 8th biggest crowd at Optus. After some AFL games, a Bledisloe Cup and a State of Origin.
PS. How’s your French?
My French is very bad. The Duolingo owl is not happy with me.
But we’re one step closer to the Paris Olympics, so I think I might have to brush up…
Wow… this is embarrassing…I got it wronger than I ever have.
But honestly, I’m okay with being wrong if these are the kinds of performances and score-lines we get!
#Matildas #defeat #Philippines #Olympic #qualifier