Group C: Australia 3-2 Brazil
Montpellier: Australia kept their FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 Round of 16 hopes well and truly alive, producing a memorable, come-from-behind 3-2 win against Brazil on Thursday.
In desperate need of victory following Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Italy, the Matildas were 2-0 down just before half-time, but goals to Caitlin Foord and Chloe Logarzo, in addition to a decisive own goal from Brazilian defender Monica secured three vital points for Ante Milicic’s side.
Another win in Australia’s final Group C clash, against Jamaica, is now almost certain to take the world number six side through to the knockout stage for the fourth successive World Cup.
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With the trajectory of their campaign on the line, the immediate signs were good for Australia, who had claims for a penalty when Tameka Yallop went down in the box in the 20th minute, but a replay seen by the Video Assistant Referee revealed Yallop had handled the ball earlier in the same passage of play and Brazil survived.
Australia had been on top until then, but momentum swung sharply when, in the 27th minute. Elise Kellond-Knight committed a foul in her own penalty area, allowing Marta to step up, easily beat Lydia Williams from the spot and become the first player in history to score in five FIFA Women’s World Cups.
That development appeared to rattle the Matildas, and their anxiety only grew 11 minutes later, when Cristiane scored a carbon copy of her headed goal against Jamaica five days prior to give Australia a two-goal mountain to climb.
It looked like Ante Milicic’s side would be facing a daunting challenge in the second half, but they managed to pull a goal back in stoppage time, with an incisive run and header from Logarzo providing an opportunity for Foord, who finished with aplomb from close range to make it 2-1 at the break.
With both Marta and Formiga replaced at half-time, Australia took their momentum from late in the first half into the second, and another Logarzo involvement – albeit by fortune rather than design - brought their equaliser in the 58th minute.
An early cross from Logarzo, intended for Sam Kerr, evaded not only her captain, but also Brazilian goalkeeper Barbara to give Australia an unlikely share of the spoils with just over half an hour to play.
Their unlikely comeback was completed in even unlikelier circumstances eight minutes later, when Brazilian defender Monica’s attempted header flew into her own net, only to be ruled out due to Kerr drifting offside, then reinstated by the Video Assistant Referee, who concluded the Australian striker was not involved in the passage play.
It was a moment that not only left all of Stade de la Mosson temporarily frozen in wait, but one which put the onus on Brazil to hunt for the equaliser, and they looked to do so despite the withdrawal of the in-form Cristiane.
Australia endured some nervous moments in the dying stages, but they held firm to secure a noteworthy win – one which entirely changes the outlook of their campaign.
Photos: FIFA via Getty Images
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