Matildas draw 1-1 with China after Michelle Heyman’s stoppage-time equaliser

The Matildas’ final preparations for the Paris Olympics have got off to a rusty start after a scrappy 1-1 draw with China in Adelaide on Friday.

Australia’s coach Tony Gustavsson fielded a largely experimental line-up for the opening hour of the Adelaide Oval fixture, but they were upstaged by the reigning Asian Cup champions, with a well-organised and disciplined China keeping the Matildas shotless for the first half.

And while a sell-out 52,912 people had packed in to see the Matildas strut their stuff, they were instead silenced in the 30th minute after Chinese winger Zhang Linyan opened the scoring, volleying home a cross from Central Coast Mariners winger Wurigumula.

But veteran striker Michelle Heyman came to the rescue in stoppage-time of the first half, tapping in from a goal-mouth scramble after a Mary Fowler free kick was fumbled by China’s goalkeeper.

Before the match, Gustavsson said he remained undecided on four spots for the 18-woman squad to contest the Paris Olympics starting in late July. The team’s starting XI reflected his need to test out those peripheral players, beginning without big guns Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley, Ellie Carpenter, Hayley Raso and Kyra Cooney-Cross.

But the team that started the game struggled to break down a tightly-packed Chinese defence, and regularly coughed up possession before being punished by quick transitional counter-attacks.

While the momentum of the game began to swing after five senior players were substituted on in the 60th minute, winger Caitlin Foord lasted just 15 minutes, leaving the field after being felled in a tackle, despite appearing in no great discomfort.

Following a tepid opening 29 minutes, China struck on the half-hour when a fast break down the right flank left Australia’s Kaitlyn Torpey sprawled in the grass after grappling with powerful striker Wurigumula.

As the pair jostled, Torpey slipped and fell to ground — replays showed a slight tug on her jersey from her opponent — while Wurigumula was quick to recover from the contact, her follow-up cross into the box deflected into the path of Zhang, who scored with a reflex right footer.

After half time, Australia showed far greater attacking intent and almost had a reward in the 56th minute when Cortnee Vine swung a cross into the box.

The ball landed near Fowler who was set to pull the trigger and shoot, but advancing China keeper Xu Huan knocked the ball away. Six minutes later, Gustavsson made five substitutions, summoning Catley, Foord, Raso, Carpenter and Kyra Cooney-Cross.

The injection of the Matildas mainstays had instant impact, with the Australians crafting a series of scoring chances through Raso and Fowler, though a scrambling China kept the Matildas scoreless.

But in a bizarre series of events in stoppage time, where Australia won a free kick just outside China’s penalty spot after the goalkeeper slid out to collect an innocuous ball only to hand-ball it and give a set piece away, a powerful striker by Fowler was fumbled by Xu and duly poked home by Heyman.

The Matildas meet China again in Sydney on Monday night and Gustavsson will announce his Olympic squad the following day.

Check out how the game unfolded in our live blog below.

Key events

See you Monday!

I still think Heyman’s (and Fowler’s) issues tonight were more about distribution. They both should be on the plane to Paris. But maybe those in midfield (who aren’t feeding through enough quality ball) should be a bit worried – they need to step up and do better in the next leg.

– Ingrid

I think tonight that those who are already locked in to the Olympic squad are there for a reason…not sure any of the questions Tony had about the remaining four players were really answered tonight

– Tania

I think we’re all on the same page about tonight’s game: the Matildas definitely didn’t show enough against China to convince us of anything, so they’ll really need to step it up in the second match in Sydney on Monday to settle out nerves about their readiness for the Olympics.

We’ll have a match report out shortly, but for now, thanks so much for engaging with the blog tonight, and I’ll see you all again here on Monday night from 7:00pm AEST!

Until then, enjoy your weekend, and gooooo Tillies!!!

So what did you make of that?

Redemption rocks. Phew! Okay, how do you pick an optimal 18 squad out of that? I guess that’s why Tony’s paid the big bucks. More questions than answers, maybe the answers’ll arrive on Monday. Thanks Sam!

– Big Ben

High energy and effort leads to chances and finally a goal. Why did they play so conservatively for the first 88 minutes? Raso showed the way

– Tobi

Matildas lack quality. Any squad with EVE and Polkinghorne hasn’t hope against the new top nations.

– The bill

Great to see Michelle Heyman score at the death to salvage the draw, she’ll definitely be on the plane to Paris in July.

– Adam

What’s the answer? Give them time (and hope Ford’s injury heals)

– Betty

Whenever the Matildas have two-game windows, they do tend to be quite rusty and slow in the first of the two matches. So in that context, tonight’s game isn’t a huge surprise, nor is it a shock given the five changes Tony Gustavsson made to the starting line-up.

And yet… with Paris less than two months away… the Matildas don’t really have time to be this sloppy, do they? They certainly won’t be forgiven for it against the USA, Germany, and Zambia.

But who do you reckon impressed tonight? Did any player convince you that they should go to the Olympics? Or do we need another game to figure it out?

Heyman redemption!

Let the scoreboard show that it was Michelle Heyman who equalised. I won’t hear a bad word said about her! (even if she didn’t have a great game 🙂 ⚽️💚💛

– Leo

michelle heyman doesn’t miss in front of goal! she might not be sam kerr but she should be in paris as a CF.

– alex

– Samantha Lewis

I was literally typing a post about Michelle Heyman’s game tonight, and then she just goes and scores.

Maybe that’s why she goes to Paris: because she can be there right until the very end.

Full time: Australia 1 – 1 China

The commentators curse Sam…Michelle Heyman unseen all night…bobs up in the 95min…extraordinary!

– stumcin

Yeeeeeeesssssssss!!!! 🥳🥳🥳

– Tania

YYYYYYYYY3EEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAASHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

– Natty

FInally!!!!!!

– M

I feel that goal should be given to the china goalkeeper. She put a lot of effort to make australia score

– First

Michelle is back online!!!

– Micko

Geez. Oztraylia. You got damn lucky with that goal at the end! Coulda/shoulda done better. And sooner.

– Ingrid

Whew

– sandye

Hurray

– jag

Just like the last time they played, a stoppage-time equaliser rescues the Matildas after a pretty sluggish display.

Absolute scenes from the sold-out stadium – and from all of you – right at the death!

94′ GOAL AUSTRALIA

MICHELLE HEYMAN EQUALISES AFTER A TRULY BIZARRE SERIES OF EVENTS!

A free kick just outside China’s box was awarded after their goalkeeper came sprinting off her line and seemed to hand-ball it after a miscontrol?

Mary Fowler stood over the ball, sending her rocket of a right foot through the set piece towards the front post, where the keeper isn’t able to catch it and the deflection falls right to the feet of Heyman, who pokes it home.

1-1!

93′ Where are our goals coming from?

The hole left by Sam Kerr’s absence is starting to look bigger and bigger with every minute that goes by tonight!

– stumcin

Hopefully Caitlin Foord doesn’t have a serious injury, this would be disastrous for the Matildas 55 days out from the first game in the Olympics.

– Adam

As I wrote at the start of tonight’s blog, the Matildas really haven’t figured out the answer of how to score goals without Sam Kerr.

As Adam says, this injury to Caitlin Foord is a worry. She was massive for the Tillies during the World Cup when Kerr was unavailable. Mary Fowler’s wobbly form in this game is a concern, as has Michelle Heyman’s kinda-nothing performance.

So what’s the answer?

91′ Chance China!

Another counter-attack from China sees Wu Chengshu through one-on-one with Clare Hunt, who’s backtracking into her own box, trying to hold up the energised substitute.

Chengsu twists and turns and finds a half-space, swinging her foot through the ball, but she doesn’t quite connect and it fizzes into Mackenzie Arnold’s hands.

Five minutes of added time

87′ Hunt gets crunched

A wildly spinning aerial ball from Hayley Raso that deflected off a Chinese player falls dangerously towards the top of the box, where Clare Hunt and substitute Wu Chengshu both race towards it, trying to nick it out of the air and do something.

Hunt is the tallest of the two and is able to head it away in time, but Chengshu barrels straight through the centre-back, sending her crashing into the grass.

There’s a couple words exchanged between the Chinese striker and Steph Catley afterwards as Hunt catches her breath. Not so friendly after all, this.

86′ Big Woman Up Top

I don’t know how you folks feel, but when I see Alanna Kennedy thrown up front into the centre-forward position, that’s when I know that Tony Gustavsson is running out of ideas.

Like, I get it. She’s tall and good in the air. But so is Michelle Heyman. Is this really Plan B if the Matildas are behind during the Olympics?

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85′ China substitutions

Mengwen Li is off for Mengyu Shen.

Shuang Wang Shuang is replaced by Cong Yuan.

And Yanwen Wang is off for Jiali Tang.

82′ Michelle Heyman’s gone missing

Another watcher/reader (Olive) mentioned that Mary Fowler was “struggling to do her Mary magic here”. I wonder if both her and Michelle Heyman are suffering from not being fed enough good balls? Hopefully, the subs will change that and improve distribution.

– Ingrid

Is hayman in her space jam version?

– First

She’s really just been a warm body out there for this second half, hasn’t she? It’s like the game has been happening around her and she’s just kinda been watching from a really awesome front-row seat.

I do think that the build-up play has affected her tonight, though. She barely connected with the two midfielders in the first half, and now is having to deliberately involve herself in plays to try and get anywhere near the ball.

She leaps onto a moment now, spinning on the ball after a China error, and takes a couple charging steps into the box, but just as she tries to shoot, a Chinese defender gets a toe on the ball and it spins into the keeper’s arms.

80′ Chance Australia!

They’re throwing more bodies forward now, trying to overload China’s backline and create a bit of chaos.

Another corner is taken short, with Fowler delivering the ball to the very back of the box, where Hayley Raso nods it back towards the penalty spot.

Kennedy is there, and tries an acrobatic sideways kick, but she doesn’t quite catch it and it spins over the bar.

79′ Not many beliEVErs on the blog tonight

Surprised TG left EVE out there….thoughts?

– Tania

not sure why tony is so keen on emily van egmond? she cannot play as a striker and as a midfielder not anymore effective than clare wheeler or yallop…

– alex

Honestly? I agree. Emily Van Egmond doesn’t seem to have the speed or style that you associate with this high-intensity Matildas team, so it’s odd that she’s played such a pivotal role in the side for so long.

78′ Aaaaaand she misses

Kennedy goes for it, trying to whip the ball up and over China’s wall and into the top corner, but it flies over the crossbar instead.

78′ Matildas win a dangerous free kick

Emily Van Egmond was clipped from behind by a clumsy Chinese player just outside the top of the box.

Steph Catley and Alanna Kennedy are standing over it. China have five players in the wall…

Crowd: 52,912

Hectic. Well done, Adelaide!

76′ Australia substitution

Uh oh.

Caitlin Foord, who came on only 15 minutes ago, goes down in the grass, gesturing towards her hamstring.

A minute later, she walks off the field, replaced by Brisbane Roar winger Sharn Frier.

75′ China substitution

Goal-scorer Zhang Linyan is off for Liu Yanqui.

74′ Chance Australia!

A more characteristic passage from Australia with Ellie Carpenter slotting through the speedy Hayley Raso down the right wing.

She cuts the ball back from the by-line, aiming for the penalty spot, where Mary Fowler is steaming in to meet it.

But Carpenter is there instead, and gets in the way of Fowler’s swing, so she doesn’t quite meet it properly and the ball deflects off a China defender and bounces away up-field instead.

Bugger.

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Sydney FC claim A-League Women championship after defeat of Melbourne City

The irrepressible Sydney FC have beaten Melbourne City 1-0 to claim a record fifth A-League Women championship, and their second in a row.

Premiers City dominated possession but super-sub Shea Connors struck in the 69th minute, brilliantly assisted by teen sensation Indiana Dos Santos, to send the Sky Blues into ecstasy.

Both teams were on four titles heading into Saturday’s clash at AAMI Park in Melbourne, which took place in front of 7671 fans.

It was the second-highest grand final attendance ever, after the 9519 in Sydney last year.

Sky Blues midfielder Mackenzie Hawkesby was named player of the match.

City right-back Bryleeh Henry was superb and Julia Grosso shut down Matildas star Cortnee Vine, while Sydney FC defenders Charlotte Mclean and Jordan Thompson kept the dangerous Hannah Wilkinson quiet.

The Melbourne side suffered a blow before the game, with goalkeeper Barbara ruled out with a quad strain.

Veteran Melissa Barbieri stepped in, with Emily Shields signed late as a back-up.

Despite her 27-year professional career and more than 80 caps for the Matildas, it was Barbieri’s first start in a grand final.

She made a sharp one-handed save to deny Thompson inside the opening minute, while her Sydney counterpart Jada Whyman was also called into action early to deny Wilkinson.

In the 11th minute, City teenager Daniela Galic bamboozled multiple Sydney defenders but her tame close-range effort was easily claimed by Whyman.

The Sky Blues almost pinched a goal at the end of the half after Stott slipped and Hawkesby pounced, but the Sydney midfielder attempted to pass rather than shoot and Henry recovered to clean up.

In the 64th minute it was City’s turn to go close, Taylor Otto dragging a shot wide of the far post.

Sydney skipper Princess Ibini set a record by playing in her eighth decider, but made way for Connors in the 67th minute – and it proved a master stroke from coach Ante Juric.

Two minutes later, a poor Rebekah Stott header fell to Shay Hollman, who worked the ball to Dos Santos.

The 16-year-old pulled off a wonderful pass to find Connors, who beat City’s defence for pace, burst forward and struck a first-time shot past Barbieri.

Dario Vidosic’s City spurned multiple good chances to equalise and were left to rue what might have been.

Hughes shot over the bar in the 79th minute, and Leticia McKenna appeared destined to score four minutes later only to be denied by a Hollman clearance over the bar.

Rhianna Pollicina should have levelled the tie in the 84th minute after a Whyman clearance fell to her, but with the goal beckoning she blasted over the bar.

Check out how the game unfolded in our liveblog below.

Key events

So long, glorious Dub

Well, it’s been an epic season. The first home-and-away season in A-League Women history, record-breaking attendances and broadcast audiences, all in the afterglow of that incredible Women’s World Cup.

I’ll have plenty more to say about how Sydney’s incredible win tonight speaks to these bigger trends and themes, but for now, it’s time to say goodbye to what has been a sensational season of Dub.

Thank you all so much for joining me on the blog today, and I’ll be seeing you again when the Matildas take on China at the end of the month.

Until then – GO SYDNEY! And cyas!

Post-game scenes

The podium has been erected on the field, with a big blue arch set up nearby behind a CHAMPIONS sign.

Sydney FC midfielder Mackenzie Hawkesby is named Player of the Match for an immense effort. She really has been the saviour of Sydney’s season in so many ways, so it’s fabulous to see her recognised.

The players of Melbourne City are now filing acrss the stage to receive medals and shake hands with a couple representatives of the A-Leagues.

They’re all looking absolutely shattered, as you’d expect. Some were in tears after the final whistle. To have come so far but have fallen short right on the brink of history has gotta hurt.

It’s the Sydney players’ turns now. They’re all wearing scarves, which they wrap around the necks of the young girls who’ve been recruited from a local club to hand out their medals.

There’s a small but vocal group of hardcore Sydney fans down one end of the field waving banners and scarves and singing for their players. Great effort from them all to travel down to watch their team defend their championship title.

Analysis corner with Big Ben

A really enjoyable match of tactics – nuts at the start as someone tried to get the early advantage – no deal. Then all tensed up for remainder of first half. Then in the second the tactical difference I think was Sydney subbing when they wanted, and Melbourne City subbing when they needed. Melbourne cracked, which lit things up nicely for the rest of the (oddly long) time. Well done ALW. Well done Sydney. Well done Connors, Well done Sam and thank you 🙂

– Big Ben

Great summary of the match here from Ben, one of the blog’s regulars.

I think you’re spot-on, Ben. The timing of Sydney’s substitution of Connors was definitely key, whereas it looked like City were maybe hedging their bets on the game going to extra-time and wanting fresh legs.

But it came back to bite ’em almost immediately.

Your reactions (to my mum??)

Drinks are on Sandye tonight! 😊🏆🍾🥂

– Leo

Sandeye….golf champ…one eyed Sky Blue…and Samantha’s Mum…some people have all the luck!!!

– stumcin

Final thoughts

As soon as the whistle blew, Sydney FC’s entire bench ran out onto the field in a dark blue wave of noise and flailing arms.

It’s almost unbelievable that they’ve won this considering the stats of this game: 28% possession, just 3 shots on target, and only one corner.

This wasn’t about trying to play football, though. This was about trying to find a single moment and capitalising. And when Melissa Barbieri mis-timed her sprint off the line, allowing Shea Connors to squeeze the ball beneath her legs, that was all the moment Sydney FC needed.

From there, it was bunkering in and trying to survive the storm of a City side who realised, finally, that they were playing in a grand final, and that grand finals require something else than what got them the premiership.

They tried – god knows, they tried – and those final, endless minutes of extra time were panic-stations, throwing everything they could at a team that had defended so brilliantly all game, trying to create moments of their own.

They had some, but the players who you’d usually expect to grasp them – Rhianna Pollicina, Emina Ekic, Laura Hughes – tonight, simply, couldn’t.

By the end, it was the team who’s battled through wars of their own, who weathered the ups and downs of the whole season and came out the other side champions.

Sydney FC can now lay claim to being the most successful team in A-League Women history. A fifth championship to match their five premierships. And they did it, this season, with the youngest team in the league. Is there any team who will ever be able to do what they’ve done again? I doubt it.

My mum won golf AND her team won the Dub grand final

the double!! woo hoo! well done SFC!

– Sandye

She’s your lucky charm, Sydney fans!!!

FULL-TIME: SYDNEY FC WIN 1-0!

THE SKY BLUES DEFEND THEIR A-LEAGUE WOMEN CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE!

96′ Everyone’s up!

City’s formation is basically a 5-4-1, having thrown as many as they can risk forward to try and find a last-ditch equaliser.

But the final pass just isn’t there. They’ve sent dozens of corners into Sydney’s penalty area, but none of them have been met by a team-mate. They’ve tried to squeeze and wriggle and pass their way through and behind and around, but they just can’t find someone to twist the final knife.

One thing’s for sure: this has been a hell of an impressive mature performance by Sydney. The youngest team in the league, a team that wasn’t favoured to take this out, but who, somehow, find themselves on the brink of a fifth championship title.

93′ Crash-and-bash

Melbourne City are running out of ideas. Sydney’s dark blue wall has held firm all game, anchored by the excellent Jordan Thompson and Charlotte McLean, and they just haven’t been able to find a crack.

So they’re just throwing themselves at Sydney’s players now. Taylor Otto isn’t a centre-back anymore, she’s a miscellaneous midfielder, using her height and strength to try and crash her way through Sydney’s defence.

It’s route-one balls from City at this point, over the top or through, just trying to create any possible half-opening that they could swing a hopeful foot at.

But Sydney are holding. And holding. And holding. Sometimes, they nick the ball away to a Cortnee Vine or a Mackenzie Hawkesby, who pump their tired legs to try and move it away from their own goal. But mostly they’re just sitting deep and trying to protect this lead.

9 minutes of added time

Where the HECK did that come from!?

Who cares! It’s time for chaos.

88′ City keep coming!!

Now we have a game…Melbourne City are throwing the kitchen sink!

– stumcin

Sydney FC need to be careful going into the late stages of the game, Melbourne City are desperate for the equaliser and will no doubt capitalise on any and every chance they get.

– Adam

Wave after wave of attack as they try to equalise!

Sydney are scrambling – trying to hold their nerve, stay calm and structured – but a single wrong step or bad decision could spell the end.

City are slicker now, faster, sharper in their angles and movements.

Galic nips the ball away from a sloppy Abbey Lemon and dinks it back over Whyman’s diving hands, trying desperately to find Emina Ekic at the back post, but it flies just over her leaping ponytail.

The crowd is up now, getting louder, trying to push the home side on. The minutes are slipping away. There’s not long left to keep their double hopes alive.

85′ Chance City!!

The home side attack again with some strong individual work from Daniela Galic in the box, slipping the ball through three Sydney defenders to McKenna on the right wing.

She clips a cross backwards, over the top of Sydney’s pack of defenders, and although Whyman gets a glove to the ball to slap it away, it falls right to the feet of Rhianna Pollicina.

She has nobody around her – she just needs to wait for the ball to fall perfectly – but her eventual shot flies over the crossbar instead.

She puts her head in her hands. That was the biggest chance she’s had all night. Should have buried it.

83′ CHANCE CITY!

OH MY GOODNESS!

The resulting free-kick is beautifully dipping towards the back post, and falls perfectly to Leticia McKenna.

The substitute takes a touch inside onto her left foot and rifles a shot towards goal.

Jada Whyman is already flying across to stop it but the ball is going above her, but Shay Hollman leaps into the air and heads it right over the crossbar.

The young midfielder celebrates like she’d scored. She just prevented an almost-guaranteed equaliser. Incredible.

82′ Yellow card Sydney

Tori Tumeth got turned around by Daniela Galic near the sideline and, in response, the Sydney defender just clambers into the City teenager and the two tumble into the ground.

It looks like Tumeth slipped slightly in the turf, but the referee didn’t see it, instead giving her the second yellow card of the game.

Galic is furious, she stands over Tumeth intimidatingly as a team-mate tries to get in the way to stop it from getting any more heated.

The players disperse to get ready for the free-kick.

79′ Chance City

Rhianna Pollicina almost breaks through Sydney’s defensive line, but Charlotte McLean does well to scramble back and sling a leg in the way to scoop the ball away from the City midfielder.

But it’s not quite enough and it falls straight to (I think) Laura Hughes, who cuts inside and takes a few steps towards the top of the box before rocketing a shot well over the crossbar.

78′ City 0 – 1 Sydney

There’s some chat in the media box about who’s been the Player of the Match.

It’s been a tough one considering this has been an arm-wrestle of a game, with neither team really having any clear stand-outs.

Daniela Galic has shown flashes of brilliance for City, but Sydney have been really sturdy in midfield with Mackenzie Hawkesby and Shay Hollman in particular.

Who do you reckon has been the MVP so far, team? Help us do the votes.

77′ City substitution

Leticia McKenna comes on for Hannah Wilkinson.

Official attendance: 7,671

It’s the second-highest crowd for an A-League Women grand final in history, though you’d have to think it should have been much higher considering some of the numbers we’ve seen throughout the season.

Your goal reactions!

Brilliant substitution! Great ball from Indiana! ⚽️😊

– Leo

Through pass on target! Neatly done, smart subbing.

– Big Ben

What a time to score your first goal for the season….We got Connors… Super Shea Connors!

– stumcin

GOALLL!!!!!! Yes!!!!!

– M

72′ City win a corner

The home side have sprung to life and immediately are on the counter, trying to equalise.

Hannah Wilkinson, who’s not done heaps this half, is suddenly up and about, dancing through Sydney’s defenders towards the by-line before clipping a ball off Jordan Thompson for a corner.

The ball is taken short and swung back in towards Jada Whyman, who’s crowded out by a couple players, and the ball bounces off a Sydney head before she scrambles to clutch it in her gloves.

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#Sydney #claim #ALeague #Women #championship #defeat #Melbourne #City

Matildas triumph 3-0 over Uzbekistan in first Olympic qualifier

Michelle Heyman has scored her first international goal in almost eight years to inspire a 3-0 victory over Uzbekistan and drag the Matildas one step closer to a place at the Paris Olympics.

In their first match since superstar skipper Sam Kerr tore her ACL in January, Australia understandably missed one of the world’s best strikers at the Milliy Stadium in Tashkent.

The Matildas were scratchy and lacked cohesion, while Emily van Egmond had a horror night up forward, missing one sitter and failing to convert two other chances she would normally bury.

Coach Tony Gustavsson turned to Canberra United star Heyman, 35, to replace van Egmond off the bench in the 65th minute, and the veteran delivered just eight minutes later.

In her first appearance since 2018, Heyman headed home her 21st goal for Australia and her first since netting twice against Zimbabwe at the Rio Olympics on August 9, 2016.

Mary Fowler, who was wonderful in the second half, scored a sublime individual goal in the 84th minute, and Caitlin Foord headed home in the 86th to seal victory.

It means Australia will head into Wednesday’s second leg at Melbourne’s Marvel Stadium with a crucial 3-0 lead in the tie.

Debutant Kaitlyn Torpey started on the wing, wearing Kerr’s number 20 but was hooked for Foord, who was having her game time managed, at half-time.

Australia had 75 per cent of possession in the first half but just four shots and one on target, but they finished with 26 (eight on target).

They should have taken the lead in the 21st minute when Torpey tried to square for van Egmond instead of shooting.

Hayley Raso dragged a first-time strike wide on the half-hour mark, and shortly afterwards van Egmond hooked over the bar.

Just before half-time, van Egmond failed to get a header on target from point-blank range.

In the 54th minute, Fowler curled a wonderful ball behind the Uzbekistan defence and van Egmond inexplicably failed to tap home.

Heyman headed over the bar a minute after coming on, then delivered the lead when she nodded a corner onto the bar before following up with a second header.

Fowler then intercepted a clearance with a wonderful first touch, weaved between defenders and ripped a fantastic long-range strike inside the near post.

Foord found space and turned home a Steph Catley cross to wrap up proceedings.

Check out how all the action unfolded in our live blog below.

Key events

Final thoughts

 First of all: whew.

That first half was pretty rusty, as expected, but Tony Gustavsson’s substitutes gave the Matildas exactly the energy and dynamism they needed to unlock what had been, until then, a very solid Uzbekistan defence.

Michelle Heyman will be absolutely buzzing, scoring her first goal since 2016 upon her return to the national team after a four-year retirement, while Mary Fowler and the excellent Caitlin Foord added goals two and three.

You’d have to think the Canberra striker is a lock to start in the second leg in Melbourne on Wednesday: she provided Australia with a target player, height, power, and important movement to bring other players into the game around her.

Now that they’ve made it through this chilly first game, the Matildas return home with wind in their sails and a 3-0 advantage, which is exactly what they would have wanted.

Thanks so much for joining me on the blog for tonight’s game, and I can’t wait to be back here on Wednesday as we see whether the gals can qualify for their third Olympic Games in a row!

See you then!

Full-time: Uzbekistan 0 – 3 Australia

Crowd numbers

Robbie Thompson has said the crowd in Tashkent is just under 2,500 people.

As of today, almost the entirety of Marvel Stadium is sold out for Wednesday’s second leg.

The Uzbekistan players won’t be ready for noise like that, I reckon.

Permutations

What happens if Tillies win tonight and Uzbekistan wins Wednesday night? Who goes to Paris?

– EveWintergreen

It depends on how much Uzbekistan hypothetically win by.

If Australia finish this game 3-0 winners, Uzbekistan would need to win at least 4-0 in Melbourne on Wednesday to qualify for Paris.

90′ Three minutes of time added on

Same, honestly

UZB’s goalie kicking the ball back in the net after the third goal is so real. I would be so frustrated

– Em for Matildas

89′ Australia substitution

Ellie Carpenter comes off for Charlie Grant.

Catchy!

The song we sing here, Hey hey Heyman ooohh ahhh, I wanna know if you’ll kick that goal!

– Canberra is cool

Yiew!!!

And again ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️
Mary Fowler

– Vic in Vic

HaHAAAAAA! Heyman + Fowler

– Big Ben

Mary Mary Mary you beaute

– Em for Matildas

Just my luck. I step out to put stuff in the fridge, and the Tillies score a goal. Belated Hooray, anyway!

– SeonaBath

Floodgates open. Thanks Caitlin! ⚽️💚💛

– Leo

85′ GOAL AUSTRALIA

Caitlin Foord makes it three!

The Matildas have been trying this move all night: a winger chipping a pass in behind Uzbekistan’s defenders to find the head of an attacking player, and this time Caitlin Foord is there, all alone, to nod home a perfectly-weighted cross from Steph Catley.

3-0!

Hail Mary!

Mary Fowler you superstar! 😍⚽️💚💛

– Leo

83′ GOAL AUSTRALIA!

MAGIC MARY FOWLER MAKES IT TWO!

The midfielder has been chipping away at Uzbekistan’s defenders all night, and this time she just goes route one: picking up the ball in deep midfield and dancing past three players all by herself.

She skates towards the top of the box and steadies herself, unleashing her lethal right foot through the rubber to send a shot low and hard across the goalkeeper and into the bottom corner of the net.

2-0!!!

82′ Australia substitutions

Aivi Luik replaces Alanna Kennedy, while Tameka Yallop comes on for Hayley Raso.

80′ Chance Australia!

Goodness me, that was almost a bizarre second goal for the Matildas.

A long, dipping cross from Mary Fowler far out on the left wing is falling perfectly into the Zone Of Hesitation between Caitlin Foord and Uzbekistan’s goalkeeper, with both of them thinking the other was going to touch it, only for neither of them to get it at all.

Instead, the ball bounces past all of them and a gasp goes around the ground as it almost nestles into the far corner of the net, but bounces just wide instead.

77′ Matildas want a second

They’ve been attacking Uzbekistan in waves for the past five minutes, coming in at all angles and trying to keep the tempo and pressure up on their opponents.

Catley’s corners have been on-point all night, and are looking like Australia’s best attacking weapon at the moment. Alanna Kennedy could have nodded home the Matildas’ second goal a few minutes ago, but she mistimed her jump. Clare Hunt did the same just now.

You’d think they’ll be working a bit more on finishing their headers in the interim before the second leg of this series on Wednesday night, but wouldn’t it be great to snag one or two more goals here so that the pressure is off in Melbourne?

I sure would love that.

Woohoo!!!!

YYYYYYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!

– Natty

Finally ⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️⚽️ Michelle Hayman

– Vic in Vic

Oh Michelle! I’m in tears! ⚽️💚💛😍

– Leo

CRYING SCREAMING THROWING UP I AM SO HAPPY

– Em for Matildas

Finally! Tillies score off a corner in how long? Thank you Ms Heyman and welcome back.

– Big Ben

72′ GOAL AUSTRALIA!

MICHELLE HEYMAN SCORES IN HER COMEBACK GAME!

A brilliant corner from Steph Catley angles in towards the front post, bobbling off Heyman’s shoulder and clanging off the crossbar.

It could have deflected anywhere, but it fell straight back to her, and she nodded it over the scrambling Uzbekistan defender on the line and into the net.

1-0!

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#Matildas #triumph #Uzbekistan #Olympic #qualifier

Socceroos lose to South Korea in extra time of quarterfinal to be eliminated from Asian Cup

The Socceroos have crashed out of the Asian Cup in heartbreaking fashion, suffering a dramatic 2-1 extra-time loss to South Korea after throwing away a 1-0 lead in Qatar.

Craig Goodwin gave Australia the lead when he volleyed home in the 42nd minute in front of 39,632 fans at the Al Janoub Stadium.

Australia then spurned multiple chances to double their lead before a nightmare stint off the bench from right-back Lewis Miller, and two big moments from Tottenham Hotspur forward Son Heung-min turned the game in South Korea’s favour.

With Graham Arnold’s charges up 1-0 deep into stoppage time, Miller needlessly dived in late on South Korea’s superstar captain Son, giving away a penalty.

Hwang Hee-chan coolly slammed the spot-kick into the top corner in the seventh minute of injury time to take the game to extra-time.

In the 104th minute, Miller then brought down Hwang on the edge of the area, only for Spurs’ Son to lift a wonderful free kick into the top corner to put South Korea in front.

Australia’s hopes of a comeback were then made all but impossible minutes after the goal when they were reduced to 10 men.

Aiden O’Neill lunged in to attempt to win the ball and caught Hwang with his studs, with his initial yellow card upgraded to a straight red after a VAR referral.

South Korea comfortably saw out the game from there to send Australia packing and tee up a semi-final against Jordan, who beat Tajikistan 1-0 earlier on Friday local time.

For the Koreans, the result partly avenged their 2-1 extra-time loss to the Socceroos in the 2015 Asian Cup final in Sydney. 

Check out how the match unfolded in our live blog below.

Key events

Final thoughts

Thanks Sam. A disappointing, but not unexpected result. The Socceroos gave all that they had.

Will you be blogging the Tillies v Uzbekistan Olympic qualifier?

– Mark

Football can be a cruel game, and this is one of the cruellest Socceroos games I can remember.

They were literally a minute away from a heroic 1-0 win over South Korea, only for Lewis Miller’s panicked slide tackle in the box handing their opponents a comeback on a platter.

Hwang Hee-Chan’s penalty took the wind out of Australia’s sails, as did the straight red card to Aiden O’Neill after a dangerous tackle on Hee-Chan in the first stanza of extra-time, taking the Socceroos down to ten.

From there, the team faded and faded. Overall, South Korea were good for this win, but Australia will know that this is an enormous opportunity missed, and will linger in the heads and their hearts for a while.

South Korea now progress to the Asian Cup semi-final against Jordan, while the Socceroos will debrief and then go back to their clubs.

There will be plenty of conversation in the coming days about this game and this tournament, but all I’ll say for now is that I am really proud of how the Socceroos played tonight: they did what they do best, showing us the grit and the fight that captured the whole country in 2022.

Like then, it was a joy to bring you their journey here. I’ll be back on the ABC Sport liveblog later this month to cover the Matildas’ Olympic qualifying games against Uzbekistan, which I hope you’ll join me for.

Until then!

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Full time: Australia 1 – 2 South Korea

119′ Chance Korea!

Son Heung-min picks up the ball on half-way and just… jogs forward towards Australia’s defence, with no yellow shirts flooding back with urgency.

He has so much time to choose what to do here as three team-mates flood around. He opts left, sending a perfectly-weighted pass angled left into the box, and his team-mate rockets a shot towards the far post… only for Mat Ryan to throw two big hands at it and palm it away.

The ball rolls out to the other Korean winger, who tries to fire it over Ryan who’s still splayed out in the grass, but somehow it spins out for a goal kick.

Incredible keeping.

116′ Long bombs

Both teams are just pinging the ball over the top of each other’s defences now, hoping one of their fresh-legged forwards can speed in behind the slowing centre-backs and nick a goal.

It’s pretty rudimentary stuff, though. A ball floats in, and is headed away by a centreback. It’s hoofed up-field, only for the opposing centre-back to head it away. It’s been like this for a few minutes as both teams try to figure out what on earth else they can do.

114′ Referee error!

A lovely cross-field pass out to the left for the charging Aziz Behich sees the full-back bring it down beautifully before turning and aiming for a through-ball, but the referee whistles the game dead and points for a free kick to… Korea.

What? The referee gestures for a handball on Behich, but the replay shows the ball was nowhere near either of his arms.

That was such a shame: the Socceroos could’ve carved a rare opening with that run down the wing, but the ref has decided otherwise.

111′ Mat Ryan still flyin’

The Socceroos captain is still on his toes, even if most of his team-mates aren’t anymore.

Australia’s players are making more and more mistakes as they fatigue and lose concentration, but lucky for them Ryan is still wide-awake.

He snapped a shot out of the air a minute ago, and just came sprinting out of his box to calmly collect a through-ball with his foot before passing neatly to a team-mate.

Son Heung-min found too much space a moment later, opening up his body as a sliding Behich came across, but he hooked his shot just wide as Ryan was ready for it to come at him.

So at least we’ve got that.

108′ Behich is down

He’s run a marathon in this game, has Aziz.

Somehow he’s found himself up near Korea’s box, throwing himself around, trying anything to get a foot on the ball and send a cross in.

He tries to work with Bruno Fornaroli, but the ball just doesn’t settle. It’s hoofed into his stomach, and he tries his best to loft the deflection over the Korean defenders and towards the six-yard box, but it floats harmlessly into the goalkeeper’s hands.

Behich then leans down into the grass and clutches at his stomach. Winded, maybe? He gets up and jogs gingerly away a moment later after the Koreans had lumped the ball out so he could receive attention.

He looks cooked.

106′ Big Man Up Top

Harry Souttar is a centre-forward now.

If you were wondering what Graham Arnold’s “break glass in case of emergency” plan was.

Second half of extra time kick off!

105′ South Korea substitutions

Park Yong-Woo is replaced by Park Jin-seop.

Hwang Hee-Chan, who’s been epic in this match, comes off for Oh Hyeon-gyu.

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#Socceroos #lose #South #Korea #extra #time #quarterfinal #eliminated #Asian #Cup

Socceroos draw 1-1 with Uzbekistan to top Asian Cup group

The Socceroos have sealed top spot in their Asian Cup group but will head into the knockout stage with a dent in their confidence after a flat 1-1 draw with Uzbekistan.

Australia were already guaranteed to reach the round of 16 but needed a win or draw at Doha’s Al Janoub Stadium to finish top of Group B.

Martin Boyle’s spot-kick in the opening minute of first-half injury time, after a dubious hand-ball call on defender Odiljon Hamrobekov following a VAR review, gave Australia a much-needed lead after an uninspiring opening half.

A handful of personnel changes were made after Australia’s 1-0 win over Syria on Thursday, with Riley McGree in particular offering a point of creative difference in an otherwise stale Socceroos attack that was spear-headed by the inexperienced Kusini Yengi, who had replaced the injured Mitch Duke up front.

However, Uzbekistan grew into the match and, come the second half, took almost total control of possession and chance creation. Their effort and energy paid off when substitute Azizbek Turgunboev leapt over Aziz Behich and headed home the equaliser in the 78th minute.

It was Uzbekistan’s first goal against Australia in five meetings, also ending a run of six consecutive clean sheets for the Socceroos.

Uzbekistan finished second on five points, while Syria beat India 1-0 to finish third on four points, sealing progression as one of the best third-placed finishers while knocking out both India and China, who came third in Group A but cannot now progress.

The Socceroos will play the best third-placed team from either group C or D, and will likely be on the opposite side of the draw to tournament favourites Japan.

But there is plenty for Arnold to address, with Australia’s struggles to break down a defence, lack of creativity and a second-half fade-out among the concerns.

Harry Souttar had hearts in mouths in the ninth minute when he turned the ball over to Oston Urunov, only to recover to make the crucial tackle at the last moment.

Australia had the ball in the back of the net in the 11th minute through Kusini Yengi, but it was chalked off for an offside in the build-up.

Yengi’s best moment of the game came at the end of the first half as the striker went on a wonderful weaving run through Uzbekistan’s defence and cut the ball back for McGree, who inexplicably shot wide.

But luck was in Australia’s favour. During Yengi’s run, he attempted to get past Hamrobekov and the ball flicked off the defender’s arm, which he was using to brace his fall, then back into the striker’s path.

After a lengthy VAR review, Hamrobekov was penalised and booked and Boyle drilled the penalty into the bottom corner.

Uzbekistan’s Umar Eshmurodov headed home in the 60th minute but was offside.

It proved a warning shot.

Eighteen minutes later, Turgunboev brilliantly buried a wonderful dipping cross from Jaloliddin Masharipov to ensure Uzbekistan’s progression.

Check out how the game unfolded in our live blog below.

Key events

Final thoughts

They’d already qualified for the round of 16, but this draw against Uzbekistan means Australia have topped Group B and will play the best third-placed team from somewhere else in the tournament.

Like their first two group games, this was an awkward and rusty performance from the Socceroos. A handful of personnel changes perhaps contributed to that, though Australia’s best players was probably Riley McGree, who earned his first start of the Asian Cup.

But there’s still a question of where more goals can come from. There was a lack of creativity tonight, as there has been over the past two games, and too much sideways possession with not enough activity or improvisation through the central channels.

Graham Arnold will have to solve these problems now. There are no second-chances in knock-out football, and while Australia have done themselves a favour by topping the group and therefore facing a theoretically weaker opponent in the round of 16, they haven’t got long to figure this stuff out before they face a serious title contender.

In any case, there’s one more game on the horizon in five days’ time. And you bet I’ll be here to take you through all the action once again.

Until then, enjoy the rest of your week!

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Full-time: Australia 1 – 1 Uzbekistan

96′ Chance Australia!

A long ball from Souttar is controlled nicely by Kusini Yengi, who eases it out to Marco Tilio on the left.

The winger shimmies past two defenders and clips a cross into the six-yard box, but an Uzbekistan player beats Yengi to the header near the back post.

Help!

Someone needs to do something! …. Sam! … HELP THEM!…

– Mike

I’M TRYING TO MANIFEST THEM ANOTHER GOAL BUT I DON’T KNOW IF IT’LL WORK AHHH

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93′ Long throw

Lewis Miller’s first touch is launching a gigantic long throw into the box, which is chaotically headed out towards the D.

I’m not sure who that is running in – Tilio, maybe? – trying to use their momentum to deflect the ball off their chest and back towards the pack of players, but an Uzbekistan defender gets in the way. The ball is cleared.

92′ Australia substitutions

Jordan Bos and Nathaniel Atkinson are off.

Marco Tilio and Lewis Miller are on – the latter for his Asian Cup debut.

90′ Masharipov pulling strings

The substitute has been excellent since coming on, involved in all of Uzbekistan’s best attacks.

He’s at the heart of one again, connecting beautifully with two team-mates in a tight space as they make their way collectively towards the top left corner of Australia’s box.

His pass almost slices two Socceroos apart, but Kye Rowles flies in to the rescue and hoofs the ball upfield.

90′ Seven minutes of added time

Thanks for reading, Phil!

Thanks for this coverage!

– Phil J

88′ Atkinson is down

The right-back tried a long cross-field switch but totally shanked it and it rolled out for a throw-in near the half-way line.

The defender falls into the grass with his legs stretched out in front of him. It looks like cramp. Yep – an Uzbek player comes along and stretches out his calf for him. He’s up a minute later. He’ll have to keep pushing.

86′ Behich gets forward

Jordan Bos and Aziz Behich have been more involved towards the back-end of this half, with the two trying to muscle and race their way down the left wing.

Behich’s endurance has been particularly impressive given his age and the fact he’s the only defender aside from Harry Souttar to have played every minute of this tournament so far.

He gets in behind Uzbekistan’s three defenders here thanks to a cheeky backwards pass by Bos, but his cross is a tired one and sails all the way across the field for a throw-in.

82′ Uzbekistan substitution

The substitute has to be substituted as Igor Sergeev is carried off the field with that calf problem.

He’s replaced by Jamshid Iskanderov.

82′ Australia double change

The brilliant Riley McGree is replaced by Bruno Fornaroli.

Keanu Baccus is off, too, in place of Aiden O’Neill.

81′ Play paused

Some cheeky footwork by Jordan Bos to nip around Uzbekistan’s substitute Igor Sergeev sees the blue-shirted defender reach down to his calf as he tumbled into the grass.

The Socceroos could have kept charging forward there, but the referee whistles play dead as the physios run onto the field. The stretcher is out, too. It looks like the sub may have popped a calf. Unlucky.

78′ GOAL UZBEKISTAN!

Just as I say that – Uzbekistan have equalised!

Australia’s record run of clean sheets and minutes without conceding comes to an end as the substitute Azizbek Turgunboev rises above Aziz Behich to head home a gorgeous dropping cross from Masharipov on the left wing.

1-1!

Elsewhere…

Syria have taken a 1-0 lead over India, which takes them just below Uzbekistan on goal difference in Group B.

If Syria score twice more, and the current score in our game stays at 1-0 (or Australia score another), Syria could leap-frog Uzbekistan into second.

How good is tournament football!

73′ Uzbekistan keep trying

A very neat series of zig-zag passes by Uzbekistan down the left side sees them slice smoothly through the swarming Socceroos, with Masharipov on the ball near the top corner of the box.

His final pass undoes all that good build-up play, though, as he sends the ball through two yellow shirts where he thought a team-mate would be ghosting in behind but finds green grass instead.

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#Socceroos #draw #Uzbekistan #top #Asian #Cup #group

Inexperienced Matildas fall to Canada 5-0 in opening friendly

The Matildas have recorded their heaviest defeat in 17 months, with an inexperienced line-up thrashed 5-0 by Canada.

Nichelle Prince scored a first-half brace to send Canada on its way, with Cloé Lacasse, Simi Awujo and Adriana Leon completing the rout inside 62 minutes on Saturday AEDT.

It was the Matildas’ biggest defeat and poorest performance since a similarly inexperienced line-up posted a 7-0 humiliation to Spain in 2022.

Coach Tony Gustavsson had promised an experimental squad and no players from the 4-0 Women’s World Cup win over Canada were named in the starting line-up.

Sam Kerr and Mackenzie Arnold were out injured, while Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley, Mary Fowler and Kyra Cooney-Cross were among those benched amid heavy workloads at club level.

The starting line-up in Langford had a combined 429 caps, with 281 of those between Clare Polkinghorne and Tameka Yallop.

Charlize Rule and Sarah Hunter debuted at right-back and holding midfield and were among six players with fewer than 20 caps.

On a sodden artificial pitch at Starlight Stadium, the disjointed Matildas struggled to get to grips with the surface, or a brilliant Canada.

The Matildas were overrun in midfield and had no first-half shots to Canada’s 13 and it took just 10 minutes for the hosts to take the lead.

A heavy back-pass from Rule sold Polkinghorne into trouble and, as the centre-back got the ball caught under her feet, Prince pounced.

The striker pinched the ball away and coolly finished into the bottom corner.

Teagan Micah made three brilliant saves, denying Leon in the 24th and 31st minutes and Vanessa Gilles in the 27th.

But in the 43rd minute, Ashley Lawrence burst down the right and cut back to Prince, whose first-time shot beat a disappointed Micah at the near post.

Four minutes into the second half, the defending Olympic champions all but sealed victory when Hunter dawdled on the ball and Lacasse pinched it off her, before bursting to score.

In the 55th minute, Rule’s clearing header fell to Awujo, who had time to take a touch and fire home from distance.

Seven minutes later, Leon completed the rout when she drifted unmarked between a scattered defence to score.

Gustavsson turned to more experience in Fowler, Cooney-Cross, Katrina Gorry and Alanna Kennedy for the final half-hour.

The Matildas had their first shot through Fowler in the 74th minute, with Kailen Sheridan making a comfortable save.

In her second-last match, retiring Canada great Christine Sinclair entered the fray in the 62nd minute.

The second friendly is in Vancouver on Wednesday afternoon AEDT.

AAP

Look back at how the action unfolded in our blog.

Key events

Final thoughts

Football is a cycle, and just as we saw the Matildas go through some growing pains in their early days under Tony Gustavsson, this was another moment in which we were reminded of what the next generation of players coming through the ranks looks like.

Commentator Andy Harper isn’t as forgiving of this result, though, the biggest loss Australia have copped since that 7-0 drubbing at the hands of Spain last year.

But just like that game, this was an experimental team: Five players with 15 or fewer caps, and with a number of key senior players benched until the hour mark.

“When you make bulk changes, bulk experiments, with so many young debutants, it makes it really difficult for them to shine,” Amy Chapman says on the broadcast.

She reckons a better balance needed to be struck by drip-feeding young players into the senior starting side, citing Kyra Cooney-Cross’s partnership with Katrina Gorry on the field as a big reason why she’s come such a long way so quickly. Maybe we’ll see that in the next game on Tuesday.

That’s not to say Canada weren’t excellent. They were a team who have clearly played a lot of football together, and who will be thrilled to put five past the team that defeated them at the World Cup six months ago.

The field itself was tough; a slick artificial surface in the frosty rain made it really difficult for both sides, and you could see the Matildas’ confidence wane as the game wore on.

They registered just two shots all game — both coming through Mary Fowler when she came on — which, you’d hope, will be a focus for the side in their final match of the year next week.

All in all, given the gulf in experience and quality between the two sides, it’s perhaps no surprise that it ended the way it did.

How they bounce back and what changes they make before the rematch on Tuesday will determine whether the Matildas can finish their remarkable 2023 with a bang or a whimper.

Until then, thanks for joining me. Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

Full-time: Canada 5 – 0 Australia

What’s next?

Is there much to be gained by serving up another experimental line up on Wednesday Sam? Surely we field our strongest line up to see if we can spoil the Christine Sinclair farewell party. A big crowd deserves a competitive game.

– stumcin

It’s a good question. I think it depends on a few things: 1) how the younger players pull up after this game, 2) how the more experienced players are feeling, and 3) what Tony Gustavsson wants to work on.

I can see a situation where there’s a combination of the “two” teams we saw tonight. Where, say, a Sarah Hunter plays alongside a Katrina Gorry, or a Remy Siemsen starts up front alongside a Hayley Raso or Mary Fowler.

Seeing how some of the individuals slot into the regular starting team would be the way I approach it, personally. But I’m not Tony. So we’ll have to wait and see.

90′ 2 minutes of added time

89′ The game is winding down now

Both teams have mostly cancelled each other out in the last 15 minutes. In terms of the scoreline, it’s well out of sight, and you feel that the substitutions Gustavsson made were partly made to save the confidence of the younger players. Those on the field now didn’t really need minutes, and they’re not playing with the kind of hunger that they may have had the scores been a little closer. That’s OK though. So long as nobody gets injured, that’s what matters.

84′ Canada try the counterattack

Christine Sinclair picks up the ball in midfield and turns before charging forward after Australia’s midfielders over-committed.

Young winger Bianca St. George is tearing down the right wing, and is spotted by Sinc, who delivers a delightful outside-of-the-foot through-ball into her teammate’s path.

She tears into the box, but Alanna Kennedy is in lockstep with her. The towering centre-back throws herself across the grass as she anticipates the cross, but St. Georges loses control of the ball and it trickles out for a goal kick.

80′ Canada 5 – 0 Australia

The Matildas have looked much more composed since those substitutions were made just after the hour, but Canada aren’t letting them back into the game.

While they’re not charging forward with quite the same energy or savagery as they did early on, they still don’t look super fazed by Australia’s fresh bodies, passing the ball calmly around the back and out onto the wings before recycling it back again.

The Matildas aren’t giving up – Mary Fowler had another penalty-box entry about a minute ago – but this seems to mostly be about damage control now.

77′ Tekkers Buchanan

The Chelsea centre-back looks to be at sea, on the ball with her back to goal as Amy Sayer pressures her from behind, but the veteran does a couple of lovely step-overs and wiggles away from the young Matilda, taking on three other Aussies and jinking a lovely pass through them all.

They’re just toying with us now …

76′ Substitution Australia

Hayley Raso comes on in place of Tameka Yallop.

73′ And just as I say that!

Mary Fowler receives an incisive pass from the right wing, turning into the D at the top of the box and rocketing her foot through the rubber.

It’s almost too straight a shot, though, and it slams right into the chest of goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan for her first save of the night.

That’s something, I guess…

71′ Canada 5 – 0 Australia

With 20 minutes left, the Matildas have a mountain to climb.

They’re not going to get back into this game, you’d think, but a start would be actually having some shots at goal.

I don’t remember the last time Australia went for so long in a game without registering a single shot.

Their possession has improved since the substitutions were made, but with Mary Fowler the only recognised senior attacker on the field – with Emily Van Egmond and Tameka Yallop supporting her – you wonder whether they’ll get close enough to register even one.

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#Inexperienced #Matildas #fall #Canada #opening #friendly

The Matildas now know who they’ll have to beat to book their ticket to the Paris Olympics

The Matildas have swept the second round of their Olympic qualifying campaign with a 3-0 victory over Chinese Taipei, with a date with 50th-ranked Uzbekistan set for February to book their ticket to Paris 2024.

After beating Iran 2-0, followed by a spectacular 8-0 demolition of the Philippines in front of a record crowd on Sunday, their third straight win meant Australia finished on top of Group A with a perfect nine points from nine and a goal difference of plus-13.

To qualify for the Olympics, the Matildas must now beat Uzbekistan in a two-legged home-and-away play-off in February to secure one of the two spots given to Asian confederation teams.

Australia, North Korea and Japan secured their places among the final four in Asia by topping the three groups, with Uzbekistan joining them as the best-placed runner-up thanks to a 3-0 win over India.

Australia and world number eight Japan were both perfect in round two, but the Matildas’ goal difference ensured they were the top qualifier.

In front of 19,084 fans on Wednesday night, it took until the 62nd minute for Australia to open the scoring — but it was worth the wait.

Mary Fowler trapped a floated pass and took one more touch before unleashing a powerful strike from 20 metres out to send the crowd wild.

Six minutes later, hometown hero Sam Kerr scored the Matildas’ 900th goal from point-blank range to keep the ball rolling, before substitute Tameka Yallop sealed the deal in the 76th minute.

With goal difference pivotal, the Matildas unleashed a near full-strength starting XI against Chinese Taipei featuring Kerr, Caitlin Foord, Fowler, Mackenzie Arnold and Steph Catley.

But despite registering 17 shots to one in the first half and enjoying 79 per cent possession, the Matildas couldn’t find a way past their opposition’s staunch defence.

Fowler came the closest in the 14th minute, but her powerful shot from close range rattled the woodwork and deflected away.

Stand-out Chinese Taipei goalkeeper Cheng Ssu-Yu pulled off a series of strong saves to further frustrate the Matildas.

But Australia had only themselves to blame on other occasions, firing a series of shots either wide or over the target.

Kerr had a golden chance to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time, but her header at the far post went over the crossbar.

The Chelsea striker also fluffed a chance early in the second half when a poor first touch cost her what would have been a one-on-one opportunity against the goalkeeper.

But there was no stopping Fowler’s thunderous strike in the 62nd minute.

And when a goal-mouth scramble ensued shortly after, Kerr was on hand to score the tap-in.

Kerr was subbed off straight after the goal, but Yallop ensured the party continued with an easy finish following good lead-in work from Foord and Amy Sayer.

In the other match in Perth on Wednesday, the Philippines beat Iran 1-0 courtesy of a 19th minute goal from Tahnai Annis.

Check out how the match unfolded below with our blog.

Key events

Final thoughts

And with that, the Matildas fly through to the third round of Olympic qualifying after a blistering second-half performance against Chinese Taipei.

A glorious goal to Mary Fowler broke the deadlock, with Sam Kerr and Tameka Yallop adding to the damage as Australia finally crashed through an admirable opposition defence, highlighted by a stand-out performance from goalkeeper Cheng Ssu-Yu.

This is the final game the Matildas will play at home this year, and what a year it has been. These three sell-out games in Perth cap off a truly magical rise for the team in 2023, peaking with their Women’s World Cup run. Their impact will ripple through generations to come.

So what’s next for the team? A pair of friendlies against Canada in December, before returning to action in February in the third round of Olympic qualifying where they’ll face one of Asia’s stronger sides in a home-and-away series. Win that final leg and they’re through to Paris in July, where they have unfinished business after just missing out on a medal in Tokyo.

And as always, I’ll be there to take you through it all.

Thank you so much for joining me tonight for our live coverage of Australia v Chinese Taipei. You’re all legends for staying up so late, and I’m thrilled we got a fantastic second-half performance from the team to make tomorrow’s bleary-eyed workday worth it.

Take care and I’ll see you all soon!

Vic is two predictions from two!

Tim Tam slam for me 💚💛😜

– Vic in Vic

Quick, go and buy a lottery ticket, Vic!

Full-time: Australia 3 – 0 Chinese Taipei

92′ Australia keep on coming

We want four! They want four!

Caitlin Foord, Kyra Cooney-Cross, and Mary Fowler are all still hungry, swimming around the box as they search for a sealer.

The ball falls to Fowler, who’s on an absolute tear, opening her body up and thumping the rubber.

I fully expected it to fly into the net – as did most of the crowd based on the “ooh”s – but it goes just wide of the post.

5 minutes of added time

You and all of us, Tony!

I will sleep better now. phew! Thanks for the coverage Sam. Cheers

– Tony

Glad the Tillies could put on a show for ya in the second half.

I will sleep soundly knowing that we’ve got at least another ten years of Mary Fowler. And she’s already this good. Golly.

And the Player of the Match goes to…

Crowd number: 19,084

Woohoo!

That’s three sell-outs for the past three games, taking the sell-out streak for the Matildas to 11 consecutive games.

Sensational work, Perth. We should bring games there more often.

84′ Yallop almost has another!

A gorgeous floating cross from Amy Sayer on the right wing is looking for the head of Tameka Yallop, who made an immediate impact off the bench a few minutes ago.

The ball is floating in that in-between space where a single inch can determine who gets it, with Yallop and Chinese Taipei goalkeeper Cheng Ssu-Yu both throwing themselves up into the sky to connect with it.

The goalkeeper’s gloves reach the ball first, but Yallop’s momentum carries her into the keeper and clatters her into the grass.

She’s up a few moments later, taking a few sips of water. She’s been absolutely epic this game, and I recall the comments from her head coach Chan Hiu Ming yesterday, asking Australian A-League Women clubs to keep an eye on some of his players to potentially give them some opportunities.

Well, there’s someone who’s put her gloved hand up tonight.

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Matildas defeat Philippines 8-0 in second Olympic qualifier

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.

Key events

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!

Final thoughts

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.

89′ Chance!

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?

– Mark

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…

Same

Wow… this is embarrassing…I got it wronger than I ever have.

– Natty

But honestly, I’m okay with being wrong if these are the kinds of performances and score-lines we get!

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Matildas defeat Iran 2-0 in first Olympic qualifier

Sam Kerr has come off the bench to score the clincher in front of her hometown fans in the Matildas’ 2-0 Olympic qualifier win over Iran in Perth.

In front of 18,798 fans on Thursday night, Ellie Carpenter opened the scoring in the 19th minute before Kerr sealed the deal with her 78th-minute tap-in.

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson warned on the eve of the match that he wouldn’t be throwing his jet-lagged stars into the deep end, and a glimpse at the bench proved those words to be true.

Kerr, Mackenzie Arnold, Katrina Gorry, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Caitlin Foord, Stephanie Catley, Hayley Raso, Alanna Kennedy and Mary Fowler all started on the sideline.

With the scoreline still just 1-0 at the 65-minute mark in a match Australia were predicted to win easily, Gustavsson brought on Kerr, Catley and Fowler in a triple substitution.

The move worked a charm, with the trio joining forces to create Australia’s second goal.

Catley combined with Fowler for a one-two before firing a low pass across goal, allowing Kerr to complete an easy tap-in.

Foord, Raso, Arnold and Gorry were among the unused substitutes.

The Matildas enjoyed 82 per cent possession in the first half, and a neat run down the right from Cortnee Vine helped set up the opener.

Vine’s cross made its way to Charlotte Grant, who passed it off to Carpenter to rifle the ball home for just her fourth goal in 70 appearances for Australia.

Ellie Carpenter opened the scoring for Australia.(AAP Image: Richard Wainwright)

Carpenter almost had a second in the 31st minute when she was played in and only had the goalkeeper to beat, but her shot from an angle was well wide of the target.

Iran’s players did their best to waste time whenever the chance arose.

Theatrical rolls on the ground were a common theme in the first half, much to the frustration of Matildas.

Adding to Australia’s frustrations was their own inability to finish off their chances.

Kerr received a rousing reception when she was brought on in the 65th minute.

The star Chelsea striker fired a 72nd-minute strike over the crossbar, but she made no mistake from her tap-in six minutes later.

Kerr had a golden chance to score again in the 93rd minute, but she couldn’t keep her strike low enough.

Sam Kerr with crowd

Sam Kerr performed in front of her home crowd.(AAP Image: Richard Wainwright)

In the earlier match, the Philippines came from behind to post a 4-1 win over Taiwan, firing them to the top of the group.

Yi-yun Hsu opened the scoring for Taiwan in the 47th minute as the underdogs dreamed of a an upset.

But a double to Sarina Bolden and goals to Katrina Guillou and Chandler McDaniel meant it ended up being an easy win for the Philippines.

The Matildas face off against the Philippines on Sunday and Taiwan next Wednesday.

Australia must finish on top of the group to guarantee passage through to the final round of Olympic qualifying in February.

Look back on our live coverage below. 

Key events

Final thoughts

The Matildas get their Olympic qualifying campaign off to a good start, with Ellie Carpenter and Sam Kerr getting on the score-sheet, but it was a much tougher task than perhaps what they were expecting.

Iran sat deep and defended like their lives depended on it, throwing themselves in front of every cross and pass aimed towards their penalty area, with goalkeeper Zahra Khajavi having a stand-out performance.

It was an experimental side from Tony Gustavsson, with several big names starting on the bench, and there was a noticeable lack of chemistry and cohesion among some of the newer players.

The young Amy Sayer was the most impressive newbie, providing some dynamism and spark through midfield, while Emily Van Egmond and Clare Wheeler offered some much-needed calmness and control.

Yet the Matildas struggled to find avenues to goal, with Cortnee Vine and Tameka Yallop having a couple bright moments, though it was Carpenter who eventually found the opener after a scramble in the box.

The jammy first half from Australia just made the quality of their World Cup stars even more obvious, with Mary Fowler and Steph Catley in particular adding a different level of class and choreography to the contest.

It’s always a challenge breaking down deep defensive blocks, which is something the Matildas have traditionally struggled with, especially in Asian competitions.

With two games left against opponents who could pull out similar tactics, Australia will have to be smarter and more patient in their attacking phases, and far more clinical in front of goal.

But in the end, a win is a win, and this was a game as much about shaking off the rust as it was getting the three points.

Australia will next face the Philippines on Sunday afternoon at Optus Stadium, kicking off at 6:10pm AEDT.

And I’ll be back on the blog to take you through it all!

Thanks so much for joining us tonight, and go Tillies!

Full-time: Australia 2 – 0 Iran

99′ Australia 2 – 0 Iran

Steph Catley is standing over her second corner in quick succession.

It skims off the head of Kerr at the near post, but somehow clatters into Emily Van Egmond who’s just… standing in the way?

If that counts as one of the team’s few shots on target, I’m gonna laugh.

Big kudos to Zahra Khajavi

needs to be some credit to the Iranian keeper – she hasn’t stopped throwing herself at everything and definitely helped keep it close.

– Campbell

All the sitting-down aside, she’s absolutely been the reason Iran have kept this game to 2-0.

96′ Iran on the attack

Negin Zandi – Iran’s most dangerous player – picks up the ball and drives forward, feeding it out to her winger on the left side.

Zandi is the only red shirt that makes her way into the box, surrounded by four Matildas, waiting for a returned cross.

But it never comes. The ball from her team-mate is poor and easily intercepted and cleared away.

93′ It’s hard to keep up

Australia just keep attacking and Iran keep defending.

Ellie Carpenter had a chance before that went just wide, and Alanna Kennedy just had a header fizz past the wrong side of the post.

Iran haven’t done much other than throw their bodies in the way of every Matildas shot, which tallies 24 now, though only six have been on target.

It’s a lot, fam. My poor fingers are nubs.

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11 minutes of stoppage time!

Bench depth

Hello Sam – I know it’s a qualifier and not a friendly, but it seems a tad harsh on the Iran to bring Sam, Mary and Steph on at the same time…

– Mike

Imagine being Iran. You’re probably exhausted, you’re a goal down, but you’ve had a couple glimpses of goal, you just need one little opening to be able to capitalise on an error…

…and then Sam Kerr comes on the field.

I’d just give up then and there. But that’s why I’m here tapping away at my computer and they’re out on the field!

86′ Wave after wave after wave

The Matildas just keep on coming, working down both wings, trying to pierce passes through the middle to Kerr.

The noise of the crowd is noticeably louder now that Australia’s World Cup heroes are out there.

Fowler, Catley and Kerr have undoubtedly added more energy and class to the Matildas going forward. You can see their chemistry already humming away.

Won’t be surprised if we see a third goal scored by the end of the game based on the number of chances those three have already created between them.

Anyone taking bets on the amount of added time?

The medics are working overtime

– Jack

There’s gotta be at least 10 minutes that have been used up by Iran’s players sitting on the grass, right?

83′ Australia substitution

That’s the last contribution from Amy Sayer tonight, who’s had a great game, I reckon. Would love to see her again when Australia face the Philippines on Sunday afternoon.

She’s replaced by Kyra Cooney-Cross.

81′ Chance Australia!

Oh my goodness, what a pass from Mary Fowler.

The Manchester City midfielder has been walking on air since coming onto the park, dancing between players and threading space-warping passes through lines.

She twists and brings an aerial ball down onto her foot balletically, seeing a run from Amy Sayer from deep midfield cutting through Iran’s defensive line.

Fowler anticipates the run and delivers a gorgeous reverse pass that takes out three Iranian defenders, right into Sayer’s charging path.

The midfielder shoots but Iran’s goalkeeper sticks out a strong left foot and it’s thumped away.

So nice to watch.

78′ GOAL AUSTRALIA

AND IT’S SAM KERR! ON HER RETURN TO HER HOME-TOWN!

The substitutes made it look way too easy: a simple one-two between Mary Fowler and Steph Catley sees a low, hard Catley cross towards the back post right into the cushioned foot of Kerr.

That’s international goal number 65 for Kerr. Different gravy.

2-0.

73′ Iran’s keeper is down

She’s holding her head after that collision earlier, sitting back down in the grass as Catley is standing over another corner.

The crowd isn’t holding back now: they loudly boo the Iranian player as the physios come back onto the field to hopefully perform a concussion test.

Catley already looks pissed. She’s bouncing the ball around with her other hand on her hip.

The goalkeeper eventually stands up and gestures around to her players like nothing is wrong.

Annoying.

Sports content to make you think… or allow you not to. A newsletter delivered each Friday.

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Live: Matildas face Spain in second Cup of Nations match

Can the Matildas exact revenge against a Spanish side missing 15 of their biggest stars? Or will Spain’s depth shine through?

Follow below for live updates.

Key events

46′ Spain out of the gates early

By Samantha Lewis

The visitors unleash the first shot of the half after Australia fail to clear the ball from near the top of their own box.

Jenni Hermoso had the open of sending through Redondo Ferrer down the left, who was completely free, but instead shoots herself – right into the chest of Mackenzie Arnold, who has been excellent so far this game.

Second half kick-off!

By Samantha Lewis

Key Event

Chloe Logarzo getting recognised at half-time

By Samantha Lewis

The Matilda is currently recovering from a foot injury, after spending most of the past 18 months on the sideline with an ACL tear.

In the meantime, though, Logarzo has been really leaning into advocacy work, particularly working with the LGBTQIA+ community (of which she is part) on various causes.

That includes being named one of a handful of 2023 Sydney WorldPride Rainbow Champions: ambassadors for the event who have been working in their own spaces to progress inclusion and diversity.

Chloe will also make an appearance at the finals of the International Gay and Lesbian Football Association World Championships, which kicks off tomorrow in Sydney, to present the trophies and medals!

Congrats, Chloe.

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Update

Audience comment

I agree 100% that first half blew me away.

– Natty

Update

Audience comment

No first half jet lag this time! Nicely paced open playing from both sides (would love to see the sideline view of Polk’s goal – she steps goalside of that defender and the ball before taking possession and shooting… there was another defender out of frame…). Halftime talk? Back line; calm down, improve anticipation now you’ve seen ESP’s style. For the rest; keep doing what you’re doing till you run out of puff, then we’ll sub you.

– Stop Moving the Goalposts!

HT: Australia 3 – 0 Spain

By Samantha Lewis

Key Event

That was, without doubt, one of the best halves of football the Matildas have played under Tony Gustavsson.

Almost from the opening whistle, they were intense, organised, and direct in their attacking moves. They know exactly where Spain’s weak-points are, and have been pressing and pushing and prodding them all half.

Spain have had a handful of decent chances, though, mostly coming from delightful little through-balls that carved open Australia’s back-line. You have to wonder whether a more experienced starting line-up would have made that opening 45 a much more even contest.

What did you think of that, beloved blog-watchers? Is that the kind of half you were expecting from the Tillies? What do you think the second 45 has in store for us?

Comment below!

44′ Hayley Raso is down

By Samantha Lewis

The Manchester City winger is clutching her wrist and looks to be in some pain after tumbling to the grass.

The fourth official adds three minutes of extra time as Raso is helped off the pitch, with what looks like strapping being wrapped around it tightly.

Let’s hope it’s not as bad as it looks on the big screen!

43′ Kerr almost adds a fourth!

By Samantha Lewis

Direct, precise, lethal football from the Matildas.

Foord picks up the ball in midfield and spins, knowing Kerr is racing off the shoulder of the last defender.

The Arsenal winger clips a perfect ball into Kerr’s path as the Chelsea striker takes a steadying touch and fires…

…but it just fizzes wide of the far post.

42′ First yellow card of the match

By Samantha Lewis

And it goes to the goal-scorer Caitlin Foord for accidentally elbowing Codina Panedas.

41′ GOAL AUSTRALIA

By Samantha Lewis

Key Event

Caitlin Foord marks her return with an easy header off a perfect Steph Catley free-kick.

Spain have only got themselves to blame here: not only did their players give away the set-piece totally unnecessarily, bundling Hayley Raso to the ground when she was off the ball, but they didn’t even watch Foord ghosting into the six-yard box as Catley’s cross sailed towards her.

3-0.

37′ Almost a third for Australia!

By Samantha Lewis

A bullet Sam Kerr header almost rips the back of the net clean off, but the linesperson raises their flag to bring an abrupt end to the crowd’s wave of screams.

The replay shows Kerr’s shoulders leaning juuust over the line carved into the grass, so technically she’s right, but, like, spiritually? Say it with me: Kerr was robbed.

34′ Charlie Grant gets away with one there

By Samantha Lewis

The right-back was in a bit of a pickle, getting boxed-in near her own corner-flag and having the ball stolen by Jenni Hermoso.

The Spanish striker shapes to cross before feinting back inside, with Grant swinging a wild leg to try and intercept, with the ball spinning off upfield.

The referee signals a throw-in… for Australia.

Lol.

30′ Drinks break!

By Samantha Lewis

It’s pretty warm here in Parramatta, so each half will have a drinks break.

The players have got ice towels around their necks as Tony Gustavsson is gesturing wildly and giving quick tips to his players.

Their energy has dropped off somewhat in the last five minutes, so let’s see what the next ‘quarter’ of football brings.

Would you like a Matildas kit with rainbow numbers?

By Samantha Lewis

Key Event

A Football Australia representative just confirmed to us that customisable jerseys will be available on their online store from tomorrow!

Get in quick, because they’re reaching the end of their current cycle before their 2023 Women’s World Cup jerseys are released.

23′ Things starting to settle now

By Samantha Lewis

It’s been a wild opening 20 minutes to this game, with both sides playing a really energetic, pro-active style of possession football.

The Spanish side look a little shell-shocked, but they’ve shown some glimpses of danger every now and then.

The Matildas need to keep their concentration and ensure they don’t let this intensity drop.

18′ Spain trying to get back into it…

By Samantha Lewis

Some nice one-touch passing slices through Australia’s defensive third and finds a Spanish player all alone near the penalty spot. Her shot looks for all money like it’s flying into the net, but Steph Catley sticks out a strong left boot and sends it spinning out for a corner, which comes to nothing.

Phew!

15′ GOAL AUSTRALIA

By Samantha Lewis

Key Event

CLARE POLKINGHORNE!

Now you don’t see this every day: that’s two goals in two games for Australia’s all-time leading appearance-maker.

Spain fail to deal with a corner properly, with the ball being recycled immediately by the Matildas before it finds Raso stationed out on the left.

She clips in a lovely cross to the box, with the deflected Sam Kerr header being bundled around by a Spanish defender.

Polkinghorne bodies her off inside the six-yard box and slams it into the top left corner.

2-0!

14′ Matildas with the first corner

By Samantha Lewis

Hayley Raso has been an absolute menace down the right wing so far, regularly getting the best of Spain’s young left-back.

Another cut-and-cross deflects off a red sock and flies out for the first corner of the match.

Update

Audience comment

Thanks Sam. If this is what we’ve got to look forward to in July and August, bring it on.

Spain are at another level compared to Czechia.

– Mark

Update

Audience comment

YYYYYYYYEEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSS!!!!

– Natty

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