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Milicic delighted by Matildas heroics

Montpellier: Ante Milicic hailed his team’s stunning 3-2 win over Brazil as one of the best he’s seen from an Australian side, after the Matildas came from two goals down to revive their FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019 hopes on Thursday.

In a match which has been dubbed the ‘Miracle of Montpellier’, Australia were staring down the barrel of a shock group stage exit when Cristiane put the South Americans 2-0 up in the 38th minute, but, against all the odds, they emerged with all three points.

Caitlin Foord pulled a goal back just before half time, before Player of the Match Chloe Logarzo levelled the tie in the 58th minute, with a VAR-influenced own goal from Brazilian defender Monica ultimately completing a remarkable recovery.

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The win - which means Australia will be all but certain to progress should they beat 53rd-ranked tournament debutants Jamaica on Tuesday - was a source of delight for head coach Milicic.

“Tonight, is one of the finest Australian performances I’ve seen,” he declared.

“The players deserve all the rewards they were given tonight. I’m really delighted for them. They never stopped believing, and the coaching staff never stopped believing.”

Just five days after their shock opening defeat to Italy, Australia had started relatively well in Montpellier, but still found themselves on the brink of disaster after Marta slotted a penalty and Cristiane netted a superb first-half header.

Milicic conceded it had taken time for his side to find their feet in the must-win clash but had nothing but praise for the mental strength they showed in producing a famous result.

“You could tell the girls were nervous,” he said. “That’s understandable in the manner that we lose the first game and the negative publicity that they received after that.

“There was a lot at stake today, but I think in the end they really answered a few people, not only with the three points but the way we went about it.

“We kept on believing in our style, in our football and in our principles, so it was really an Australian performance to be proud of.”

Milicic identified Foord’s goal - poked home from close range to bring the Matildas to within striking distance at 2-1 with 45 minutes to play - as the moment which delivered the crucial boost to Australia’s mentality, which ultimately secured victory.

“I think the turning point for us was scoring just before half-time,” the former international striker explained.

“That’s massive, when you come into the changeroom and you sense that you are still in the game. Even when we were 2-0 down I thought we were in control, and unfortunately in a couple of transition moments, we let ourselves down a little a bit.

“But we scored before half-time, and I could sense at half-time in the dressing room that the momentum was on our side.”

Australia will face Jamaica at Grenoble’s Stade des Alpes on Tuesday at 21.00 (local time), with Brazil to simultaneously meet Italy in Valenciennes as Group C reaches its conclusion.

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