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Australia revels in Matildas ‘miracle’


Montpellier: It may be less than 24 hours old, but Australia’s FIFA World Cup France 2019 epic against Brazil has already been christened as ‘the Miracle of Montpellier”.

The tagline comes as part of a nationwide celebration of Australia’s win over the South Americans, which has included major press outlets, football icons and political leaders.

The Matildas were down, and potentially on the way out, when facing a 2-0 deficit just prior to half-time, but goals to Caitlin Foord and Chloe Logarzo, and an own goal from Brazilian defender Monica completed a spectacular recovery.

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Not since June 9, 1995 had the Brazilians lost a group stage match at the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and not since two days earlier had any side come from 2-0 down to win a match at the tournament, with Sweden’s 3-2 win over Germany the only previous time a team had achieved the feat.

After the criticism which had followed the Matildas’ 2-1 defeat to Italy on Matchday One, it was a win which delighted the Australian press.

“Matildas still alive after the miracle on Montpellier,” was the headline in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, while the Sydney Morning Herald opted for “Miracle of Montpellier answers all the questions asked of Matildas.”

 

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation concluded Australia’s win ‘shows they are still a contender’, while The Australian newspaper focused on captain Sam Kerr’s colourful post-match rebuke to the side’s critics.

The win also captured the imagination of Australian men’s national team all-time top scorer Tim Cahill, who shared his emotions via social media thoughout the match, posting: “(The) Matildas were fantastic and dserved the three points today.”

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison joined the chorus of celebration, posting: “Inspirational. Congratulations Matildas. you never gave up.”

 

 

But no one was more delighted by the win than head coach Ante Milicic, who labelled his side’s performance one of the best in recent memory by an Australian team.

Milicic, who only began in his role in February - and came under fire in some quarters following the Italy defeat - said he hoped the stunning result would galvanise the nation.

“The important thing is that we as a staff give these girls every opportunity to be successful at this tournament,” he declared.

 

“The outside noise stays out, but we really have to focus on the job because opportunities at a World Cup don’t come around often enough, and these girls fully understand that this is their time now, they want to make the most of it.

“And as a staff and as a football nation and an Australian football community, we need to give these girls every opportunity to succeed and hopefully this win tonight brings the country together.”

While Australia’s path to the Round of 16 now looks much clearer, there is work still to be done for a fourth successive trip to the knockout stage to become a reality, with a positive result required against 53rd-ranked Jamaica in Grenoble on Tuesday.

Photos: FIFA via Getty Images

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