Qualifiers Final Round - Group B: Thailand 0-6 Australia
Leumeah: Australia sealed their place in the final Play-off round of the AFC Women’s Olympic Tournament, producing another convincing display to overwhelm Thailand 6-0 at the Campbelltown Stadium on Monday.
An Emily van Egmond hat-trick, a Kyah Simon brace and a further goal from substitute Hayley Raso gave Australia the handsome win they needed to retain top spot in the group on goal difference, meaning only a draw is required against China PR on Thursday for Ante Milicic’s side to finish as Group B winners.
While Australia continue to make smooth progress on the road to Tokyo 2020, Monday’s result was the end of the road for Thailand, who suffered a third successive defeat to finish bottom of the group.
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Ranked 31 places higher than their opponents, the assured Australians began the contest in the ascendancy, dominating the possession stats and keeping the visitors firmly on the back foot with several early forays forward.
But unlike Friday’s 7-0 win over Chinese Taipei, the Matildas struggled to convert their superiority into early goals, a series of half chances was the best Ante Milicic’s side could muster in the opening 30 minutes, with Thailand offering a far better first half-hour than the performance offered in their 6-1 loss to China PR.
While it wasn’t quite as tense as in the Matildas shock semi-final draw with the Chaba Kaew in their 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup semi-final, there was a distinct sigh of relief around Campbelltown Stadium when van Egmond opened the scoring in the 45th minute.
Even in the early moments, van Egmond and full-back Emily Carpenter had been involved in most of Australia’s best attacking moves, and it came as little surprise when they teamed up for their opening goal, with van Egmond arriving to steer Carpenter’s cross in off the upright.
Caitlin Foord nearly doubled the lead when she hit the post just a minute later, but Australia’s second goal did arrive before half-time, with the Carpenter-van Egmond combination bearing fruit once again, with Carpenter’s measured pass across the ball swept into the bottom corner of the net by van Egmond with one of the last kicks of the first half.
Australia’s place in the final play-off round appeared safe, but they still needed another two goals to overhaul China PR at the top of the Group B standings, and the introduction of Sam Kerr and Hayley Raso early in the second half lit the fuse for a dazzling spell of attacking power.
Kyah Simon added a third goal when she squeezed home a terrific cross from an overlapping Karly Roestbakken in the 67th minute, before van Egmond completed her hat-trick three minutes later, with Kerr earning herself an assist in another a move which utilised Australia’s width.
Kerr was the provider once more for Australia’s fifth, teeing up Raso for a terrific half-volley, and it became four goals in six minutes when Simon headed van Egmond’s set-piece delivery beyond Tiffany Sornpao in the 73rd minute to round out a comprehensive display.
Photos: Football Federation Australia
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