Fowler nets five for Australia, Myanmar edge out Uzbekistan
Mandalay: A five-star performance from Mary Fowler helped Australia overpower Nepal, while Myanmar registered an important win over Uzbekistan as Group A got underway in Round 2 of the AFC U-19 Women's Championship Thailand 2019 Qualifiers on Friday.
AUSTRALIA 11-1 NEPAL
Already a senior international, Fowler did her chances of FIFA Women's World Cup selection no harm, scoring a hat-trick within the opening 15 minutes, and adding two more goals before her 63rd minute substitution, as a rampant Young Matildas side surged to the top of Group A.
Australia's dominance was clear from the earliest stages of the match, as they repeatedly found their way behind the Nepalese defensive line to score simple goals, with Fowler opening the scoring with a fourth-minute tap-in, before netting a penalty after she was fouled while in the process of repeating the dose three minutes later.
The busy Susan Phonsongkham added a third in the 12th minute, before Fowler completed her hat-trick on the quarter-hour mark, then added her fourth, before Melinda J Barbieri had made it 6-0 in the 36th minute.
Manjali Kumari gave Nepal a moment to remember when she found the net with a superb left-foot effort to pull a goal back just before half-time, but the Australian avalanche continued after the break, as Fowler once again breached the defensive line to round goalkeeper Anjana Rana Magar and easily slot her fifth.
Nepal may have been happy to see Fowler replaced just after the hour mark, but there was no let up from Gary van Egmond's side as Rachel Lowe and Kyra Cooney-Cross added goals number eight and nine, before substitutes Indiah-Paige Riley and Shadeene Evans completed the win in the dying stages.
Australia's attention now turns to group hosts Myanmar on Sunday, while Nepal will face Uzbekistan knowing a similar performance will see them eliminated.
UZBEKISTAN 0-1 MYANMAR
Myanmar sealed what may prove to be three vital points on the road to Thailand in Friday's later match; scoring just before half-time, then holding off a desperate Uzbekistan to secure a 1-0 win at Mandalar Thiri Stadium.
Chasing a first appearance at the Finals since 2013, group host Myanmar started brightly, attacking with urgency and coming close to opening the scoring on a number of occasions in the early stages.
Lin Myint Mo excited the crowd with an effort that lashed into the side netting in the 10th minute, and Uzbekistan goalkeeper Sarina Zaidova had to be at her best to deny an arrow-like free-kick from Nwe Ni win six minutes later.
Myanmar's pressure eventually told, as San Thaw Thaw beat Saidova to a cross to steer a header into the net in the 41st minute, giving Thet Thet Win's side a crucial lead at half-time.
With matches against Nepal and Australia to come, Uzbekistan knew a result here could be the difference between qualification and elimination, and they threw everything into their effort to pull a goal back in the second half.
Little quarter was given in a gripping, hard-fought second period, but, despite the best efforts of Uzbekistan captain Laylo Shodieva, the Central Asian side's equaliser never materialised, leaving them with an uphill battle if they are to claim one of the two spots on offer at the Finals.
They now face what looms as a must-win encounter with Nepal on Sunday, while Myanmar will face in-form Australia.
Photos: Myanmar Football Federation