Matildas fire warning with China rout
THE Matildas fired a warning shot across the bows of their rivals just 20 weeks out from the 2018 Asian Cup, dismantling China 5-1 in Geelong.
Australia's growing pool of depth was on display, with the Matildas making six changes but looking every bit as sharp and dangerous as Wednesday night's 3-0 win at AAMI Park.
Kyah Simon headlined the inclusions with an intelligent and balanced midfield display plus a stunning goal to boot - spotting keeper Bi Xiaolin off her line and making her pay, unleashing from 25 metres to equalise.
China had made a seventh-minute statement, when midfielder Ren Guixin ghosted in between Matildas stoppers Laura Alleway and Alanna Kennedy to score.
But Simon's goal triggered a complete momentum shift as the Matildas stamped their authority on the contest, with the win following on from Wednesday's 3-0 triumph at AAMI Park.
While the Matildas - currently ranked sixth - are only seven spots higher than the Steel Roses, they made the gulf look substantially greater, underlined by a physical superiority.
A Caitlin Foord burst down the right led to the second. Chloe Logarzo couldn't get on the end of it but caused sufficient havoc as defender Li Danyang turned the ball into her own net.
China's woes were compounded when Xiaolin was forced off after colliding with her own defender in the same incident.
Showing little compassion, Sam Kerr pickpocketed left-back Xue Jiao before firing a rocket at Lu FeiFei within nine minutes of her entrance that the substitute keeper found too hot to handle.
Play was halted just moments after Kerr had scored the Matildas' third due to lightning, before re-emerging 30 minutes later.
The stoppage seemed to play into China's hands with Matildas keeper Lydia Williams busier after the restart, producing three top-class saves from Ma Jun, Guixin and Tang Jiali.
But you can't keep Kerr down for long, as she flicked a well-flighted Emily van Egmond free-kick into an empty net in the 58th minute with the keeper in no-man's land.
Australia's fifth goal was the most impressive - a team goal involving many of the inclusions.
Alleway's piercing pass found sub Amy Harrison, who slid in a stellar ball to release Kerr. Foord's front post burst provided an option but Kerr found a better one, squaring for unmarked Logarzo who had an empty net to tap into.
As impressive a display as it was, Williams was probably too busy for coach Alen Stajcic's liking, forced into one more stunning save when she tipped Han Peng's shot on to the post after she was clear.