Matildas still alive after miracle of Montpellier

SKIPPER Sam Kerr had a defiant message for the haters as the Matildas bounced back from two goals down to upstage Brazil and revive their World Cup hopes. 

Despair, delight and drama abounded at Stade de la Mosson, where the video assistant referee had a hand in upholding an own goal to Monica that turned out to be Australia's winner.

A loss would almost certainly have left the world No.6 Matildas hoping to sneak out of the group as one of the better third-placed teams, and exacerbated the cross-examination of Ante Milicic's side and the upheaval around Alen Stajcic's sacking.

 

But they stood tall to see off their South American arch-rivals for the fifth consecutive time and now only have world No.53 World Cup newbies Jamaica left to tackle in Grenoble next week.

"There were a lot of critics talking about us," captain Sam Kerr said.

"But we're back, so suck on that one.

"We don't listen to the haters.

"I love these girls, they're something else. We knew we were a top-10 team, now we're back in it."

Emotions get the better of Matildas skipper Sam Kerr.
Emotions get the better of Matildas skipper Sam Kerr.

A revamped Australian XI laid on all the pressure in the first half, keep two-thirds of possession though unable to turn opportunities into clear-cut chances.

Then, a 27th-minute Marta penalty and 38th-minute Cristiane header had their backs against the wall.

But Caitlin Foord came to the rescue just before the break and standout player Chloe Logarzo banged in absolute belter on the hour, before Monica's 66th-minute header into her own net sealed the end-to-end affair.

"It's a big result for us and we needed that today," Milicic said.

"Today was a real Australian performance for the girls and I'm delighted for them.

"This team doesn't give up and we like to do it the hard way.

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves. It's a win, we're off the mark, it's three points."

Brazil’s Thaisa confronts referee Esther Staubli after Australia’s third goal.
Brazil’s Thaisa confronts referee Esther Staubli after Australia’s third goal.

VAR GETS BUSY

The VAR got a good workout, starting when Australia appealed for a penalty in the 20th minute after Tameka Tallop went down in the box.

A lengthy review showed little contact and that the decision of Swiss referee Asther Staubli to leave it had been correct.

Five minutes later up the other end Brazil had more luck when Elise Kellond-Knight pulled down Andressa in the area and Marta made no mistake putting away the penalty.

The real controversy came for Australia's third goal when Kerr, from an offside position, became involved in an aerial challenge with Kathellen and Monica just before Monica unwittingly headed the ball into her own net.

Staubli originally disallowed the goal but after a review decided that because Kerr had been grappling with Kathellen she had not interfered enough with Monica to negate the own goal.

 

MARTA MAGIC

She was no guarantee to start, having sat out the Jamaica win through injury. But Marta was clearly being saved for this game, and in sending Lydia Williams the wrong way from the spot became the first player to score in five separate World Cup editions. The global icon, now 33, also extended her World Cup all-time scoring record to 16 goals.

FOORD FLOURISHES OUT WIDE

There was a sense Caitlin Foord wasn't being properly utilised as a No.10. These last few games Milicic has persisted with the Sydney FC and Portland Thorns forward in the centre and she's toiled without really getting into the game.

Out on the left the 24-year-old didn't disappoint, and her efforts paid off when Tameka Yallop recycled a Kerr chance and Chloe Logarzo flicked the ball to Foord for a close-range finish that doubled as the first goal Brazil have conceded in a World Cup group game since 2003 - a run of 10 group games without conceding.

ANTE SHOWS ADAPTABILITY

Questions were arising as to whether Milicic was willing to change what wasn't working.

It was now or never and, when it came to the line-up at least, he delivered.

Foord's positional shift and Logarzo's move back to midfield were the big ones but the introduction of Emily Gielnik also caught attention.

The loss of Hayley Raso's movement on the right wing was replaced with Gielnik's additional physicality. Then the curve ball: Elise Kellond-Knight deputising at left-back to cater for Steph Catley's move to central defence.

COUNTER-ATTACKS STILL THE KILLER

And Brazil's second goal proved it. In one fell swoop Tamires had nutmegged Gielnik and then found Debinha in space.

Cristiane was ready at the back post for the cross and the 34-year-old out-leapt Catley for the header.

The move was efficient but was also made easier by a series of little errors.

Afterwards, Carpenter could be seen giving it Gielnik.

News Corp Australia


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