Sydney: Sam Kerr scored both of her team’s goals as Australia defeated Chile 2-1 in front of a record home crowd in their international friendly on Saturday.
A total 20,029 fans saw the Matildas captain guide her side to victory in their first outing since the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019, opening the scoring in the third minute before adding a second in the 72nd minute, only for Camila Sáez to pull a goal back as Chile mounted a late challenge.
Ante Milicic’s side will meet the Chileans again in Adelaide on Tuesday, before turning their attention to February’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Qualifiers.
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Back on home soil for the first time in nine months, it took Australia just three minutes to go ahead, with Kerr capitalising on disorganised marking to steer the ball across goalkeeper Christiane Endler and into the bottom corner of the net following Emily van Egmond’s set-piece delivery.
A pinpoint cross from right-back Ellie Carpenter gave Kerr the opportunity to double the lead before half-time, but the reigning National Women’s Soccer League MVP failed to get a boot on the ball when it seemed that was all it required.
With Jenna McCormick enjoying a debut to remember, Australia continued to pull the strings, with a Carpenter cross hitting the upright, before Kerr was afforded time and space behind the defence in the 72nd minute, with the star striker predictably beating Endler to make it 2-0 despite a touch from the Chilean goalkeeper.
The goal was Kerr’s 40th in 40 matches for club and country in 2019, but Australia were made to work until the final whistle as Chile came back into contention late in the match.
Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams was called into rare action to deny Daniela Zamora in the 88th minute, but she was powerless to stop Spain-based defender Sáez from nodding in a header from the resulting corner as Australia switched off in defence.
Despite that misstep, Australia held on for a fifth consecutive win on home soil and moved a step closer to February’s all-important Olympic Qualifiers.
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