For the first hour against Brazil on Tuesday night, the Matildas showed why they could claim a podium finish at the 2023 World Cup on home soil. During the last 30 minutes, it became clear why they’re still a long way from being the finished article.
Sam Kerr scored one of the Matildas’ best team goal in recent years as Australia took a commanding 2-0 only for the side to suffer a late collapse, conceding twice in the last half-hour and forced to settle for a 2-2 draw at CommBank Stadium.
For the first hour, the Matildas played their best football under the guidance of coach Tony Gustavsson. They oozed composure. They played with confidence through the might of Brazil, led by six-time world player of the year, Marta, while opening up their defence regularly with precise and direct raids. However, defensive frailties remained and two cheap goals surrendered late meant a mostly impressive performance will be remembered as a missed opportunity.
Australia’s onslaught began almost instantly. Clever passages of play made light work of Brazil’s defence and Caitlin Foord had two gilt-edged chances, and would have been disappointed not to have found the back of the net from close range.
However, it was centre back Clare Polkinghorne who broke the deadlock in the 11th minute, just as she did on Saturday. A botched Brazilian clearance from a corner fell to Polkinghorne’s left boot and she fired in a shot that looped past goalkeeper Leticia.
After conceding, Brazil found their rhythm. Adriana rattled the upright from distance before Marta thought she had won a penalty on the stroke of half-time. She was fouled by Tameka Yallop inside the box but was flagged for being offside in the lead-up – a decision replays showed was perhaps a let-off for Australia.
Sam Kerr celebrates after her superb goal.Credit:Getty
However, those protests were a moot point after the restart. Playing the style of football that Brazil is usually synonymous with, the Matildas scored one of the most stunning goals in the side’s recent history. Playing out from their goalkeeper, they passed their way through Brazil’s aggressive press to switch play from flank to flank. Quick, precise through balls then split Brazil’s midfield before Ellie Carpenter’s final ball to Kerr gave Australia’s talisman an eye on goal. Kerr made no mistake, rattling the back of the net with an emphatic finish to make it 2-0.
Just as the Matildas looked to be cruising, Brazil struck back. Defender Erika pulled the visitors back into the contest with a powerful header from a corner, evading markers Foord and Alanna Kennedy to score after the hour.
Ten minutes later, Brazil drew level. Matildas’ goalkeeper Williams had to react quickly to block Tamires’ wayward cross from flying into the top corner but could do little to control the rebound. Debinha reacted quickly to prod the ball into the net to make it 2-2 and send the 3000 Brazilian fans into raptures.
The fiesta they had created in the south stands would have descended into a carnival had the Selecao converted a flurry of late chances but Australia dug deep enough to hold on for a draw.
Sports news, results and expert commentary. Sign up for our Sport newsletter.
Most Viewed in Sport
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article