A disciplined and resolute efficiency from the Matildas earned them a worthwhile level in a goalless draw towards heavyweights USA – and guaranteed their place within the knockout levels of the Olympics.
The Australian aspect appeared greater than prepared to accept a draw within the remaining quarter of the match, betting that different outcomes wouldn’t solely seal their place within the knockout rounds, however hand them a extra beneficial opponent.
The nil-all end result ensured the Matildas would end third of their group, behind Sweden and the USA. Nevertheless it additionally meant that if China – winless of their opening two matches – surprised the heavyweight Netherlands by a major margin in a while Tuesday night time, the Matildas would have confronted a shock exit.
Happily, the Netherlands crushed China 8-2, handing Australia a spot within the quarter finals – and a date with Nice Britain, relatively than the harmful Dutch aspect.
Having shipped 4 targets to a slick Swedish aspect of their second sport, a reshuffled Australian defence stifled a star-studded American assault, notably utilizing the off-side lure to nice impact.
In an evenly-matched battle between two groups most harmful on the counter-attack, neither aspect managed to say superiority the ball – however either side got here inside inches of scoring in an engrossing conflict.
First, 18-year-old Matildas starlet Mary Fowler – a late harm substitute to start out for the primary time within the Olympics – despatched a strong header into the crossbar. Then the Australians had been spared by the barest of margins as US star Alex Morgan discovered the web with a first-half header of her personal, solely to be known as again for an extremely tight off-side.
The draw was simply the fifth time in 30 conferences with the USA that the Matildas have averted defeat.
AS IT HAPPENED
The US Girls’s Nationwide Group (USWNT) is the dominant crew within the girls’s sport, having gained 44 matches in a row earlier than they had been surprised by Sweden of their opening match of the group stage. The powerhouse aspect have additionally gained three of the final 4 Olympic gold medals.
However beneath the guise of coach Tony Gustavsson, a earlier assistant coach of the USWNT, the Matildas confirmed no worry in a gap half the place neither crew managed proceedings, however either side long-established probabilities.
Gustavsson additionally reverted to a four-person line of defense, bringing in veteran centre-back Alanna Kennedy to accomplice Clare Polkinghorne. Chloe Logarzo was additionally named for her first minutes of the match after an harm to Hayley Raso, whereas Caitlin Foord’s harm within the warm-ups noticed teen starlet Fowler additionally handed her first begin of the Video games.
Seven minutes in, celebrity US attacker Alex Morgan raced in direction of the Australian field on a blistering counter-attack, outmuscling Australia’s Tameka Yallop earlier than rifling her shot straight to the chest of Matildas keeper Teagan Micah.
Within the 18th minute, fullback Ellie Carpenter launched a protracted throw in direction of the field. Alanna Kennedy flicked the ball in direction of the again publish together with her head, and Fowler powered a header in direction of purpose – solely to be denied by the crossbar.
Lengthy throw-ins had been repeatedly employed in an try to make use of Australia’s peak and attacking weaponry contained in the field – foremost amongst them captain Sam Kerr, who scored three headed targets in Australia’s opening two video games.
However only a handful of minutes later the Matildas – having been so unfortunate with Fowler’s missed try – had their very own stroke of fine fortune when Tameka Yallop escaped critical punishment for a horrible sort out. Yallop lunged in on Samantha Mewis in a sort out that might properly have earned a yellow card – or pink – however escaped with out the referee intervening.
And Australia’s fortunate streak continued simply previous the half-hour mark. A well-worked nook routine noticed Kelley O’Hara curl a harmful cross in direction of Alex Morgan, who was left unmarked because the Australian defence stepped as much as spring the off-side lure. Morgan made no mistake together with her header, burying it behind the web – however the assistant referee known as it off-side and VAR confirmed the choice by mere millimetres.
Within the forty third minute – in a close to an identical play to Australia’s opening purpose of the match – Sam Kerr carried the ball in direction of the field earlier than taking part in Yallop by way of on purpose to her proper. However, not like within the victory over New Zealand final week, Yallop this time fired straight on the keeper.
Then getting ready to halftime, Kerr raced to get on the top of a ball bouncing in direction of the US purpose, till Julie Ertz cleared the hazard with an unimaginable last-ditch sort out. Ertz’s determined intervention robbed Kerr of an immense alternative to take the lead from shut vary.
Australia began the second half brightly, with Fowler rifling a shot previous the aspect netting following a beautifully-timed run into the field.
Then the US had among the best alternatives of the match when Kristen Press managed to outpace Carpenter – a uncommon occasion – and roared into the field, however solely scooped a poor shot into the grateful gloves of Micah.
Lower than a minute later, Australian attacker Kyah Simon managed to search out house between the US defensive and midfield traces, turning and unleashing a shot that was blocked properly by a lunging American defender.
Australia’s off-side lure was working beautifully. After catching the American attackers off-side 4 occasions within the first half, the Matildas’ well-drilled again line managed to snare a full six USA gamers off-side on one free-kick 13 minutes into the second stanza.
Kyra Cooney-Cross was launched for the hard-running Chloe Logarzo after an hour.
US star Megan Rapinoe had picked up a yellow card within the opening half for kicking the ball away, and after a foul on Ellie Carpenter within the sixty fourth minute, she was substituted.
The tempo started to gradual within the remaining quarter of the match, with each groups prepared to cede possession in favour of sustaining defensive self-discipline – and limiting the potential impression of one another’s harmful counter-attacks at tempo.
As an alternative, the Matildas had been largely allowed to carry possession and cross between defenders, the USA seemingly content material with a draw that will maintain them forward of the Australians on purpose distinction.
The Matildas, for his or her half, confirmed little urgency with the ball, as a substitute hoping a annoyed American aspect would press in defence and create alternatives for a fast end-to-end assault.
Kyah Simon was introduced off within the 84th minute Emily Gielnik entered to shore up the defence.
There have been some fears for Sam Kerr after she went to floor within the dying levels of the match, however returned to the sector after receiving sideline remedy. It follows an harm scare within the Matildas’ defeat to Sweden, through which Kerr appeared in critical discomfort after an early incident however performed out the total 90 minutes.
AS IT STANDS
The Aussies are prone to undergo as among the best third-placed groups, through which case they might face the Group E winner – both Nice Britain or Canada, whoever wins their match starting at 9pm EST tonight.
However shock outcomes may rob the Matildas of a spot within the knockout levels. Japan are prone to beat winless Chile. If that occurs – and if China handle to upset heavyweights Netherlands by a major margin, that will be sufficient to ship the Matildas dwelling.
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