The Matildas have delivered one in all their most interesting performances within the two-year reign of head coach Tony Gustavsson, gorgeous world quantity seven Spain 3-1 after an excellent first-half blitz.
In entrance of 17,333 at Commbank Stadium, the Matildas’ World Cup preparations went to a different stage with their sixth-straight victory, and second within the house of 4 days.
Although Spain was with out 15 senior gamers who’re boycotting head coach Jorge Vilda, the European heavyweights nonetheless introduced a star-studded workforce for the Cup of Nations – and posed a stern take a look at for Gustavsson’s Matildas.
However Australia struck twice within the house of 5 minutes early within the match, with winger Cortnee Vine curling the ball into the highest nook from outdoors the realm, earlier than defender Clare Polkinghorne blasted dwelling from shut vary.
It left Spain shell-shocked, earlier than Arsenal attacker Caitlin Foord made it three late within the first half with a strong header from a Steph Catley free-kick.
The Matildas arrange extra defensively within the second half and tried to hit on the counter-attack, and had been sorely examined as Spain poured on the strain.
Spain lastly breached the Australian defence within the 74th minute when Olga Carmona fired a shocking long-range shot into the underside nook, earlier than giving the Aussies a late scare when Alba Redondo struck a thunderous close-range volley within the third minute of stoppage time.
However the Matildas – who’ve struggled defensively below Gustavsson, together with an understrength facet shedding 7-0 to Spain in June 2022 – had been resolute of their defence and managed to see out a sensational victory.
Hayley Raso advised Channel 10: “I believe it’s a assertion. We’ve handled this camp and these video games as follow for the World Cup, and we’ve received two from two.”
MATCH CENTRE: Stats, line-ups, and extra
The Matildas began completely as 24-year-old winger Cortnee Vine opened the scoring within the eleventh minute with a sensational long-range strike.
Hayley Raso darted into the field from the best wing earlier than feeding an excellent sq. go to Vine, who hit a searing first-time shot from outdoors the realm into the highest nook.
It was the pacy Sydney FC star’s third aim for the Matildas in simply 13 appearances.
Vine stated afterwards: “I undoubtedly had that feeling (it was getting in) when it hit my boot…I used to be actually proud of my aim and clearly what an excellent efficiency from the women.”
“It was weighted completely, what an ideal ball from Hayley… I simply thought ‘why not?’.”
5 minutes later Clare Polkinghorne, who turned Australia’s report appearance-maker together with her 152nd cap in Thursday’s win over Czechia, scored her second aim in as many video games to double the benefit.
Raso performed supplier once more, whipping in a harmful cross that discovered Kerr on the penalty spot. Kerr’s header was deflected straight into the air, and it fell to Polkinghorne on the again submit after a defender missed a clearance.
Polkinghorne turned and blasted the shot into the web, her third aim within the final six matches and sixteenth in 153 appearances whole.
Whereas Spain dominated possession, Australia continued to create golden alternatives to attain. And captain Sam Kerr practically trebled the lead within the thirty seventh minute when she leaped into the air to fulfill a Kyra Cooney-Cross ball and headed powerfully into the again of the web – solely to be known as for a particularly marginal offside. VAR is just not in use for the Cup of Nations.
However the returning Caitlin Foord made up for that when Steph Catley curled in a pinpoint free-kick, with Foord unmarked from shut vary and thundering the header dwelling. It was her sixth aim in her final six video games for the Matildas – having had a lean run of simply two strikes within the 24 matches earlier than that.
Kerr practically lastly bought on the scoresheet within the forty fourth minute when she raced into the field to get on the top of an extended ball, however her first-time shot was dragged simply huge of the submit.
Spain carved various stable alternatives of their very own within the first stanza, taking as many photographs because the Matildas – 9 – however incessantly failing to search out the goal.
There was some concern previous to the interval when Raso suffered a hand harm and required prolonged therapy on-field and on the sideline, however the harmful attacker was capable of proceed regardless of struggling clear discomfort.
“Beautiful. Wonderful. Completely bloody superior,” Andy Harper stated on Channel 10 of the Matildas’ first-half efficiency
“We’ve destroyed them, fully destroyed the World Cup favourites,” he added.
Spain responded by making a pair of modifications on the break, with 18-year-old Valencia ahead Fiamma Benitez and Atletico Madrid proper again Sheila Garcia coming off the bench.
The guests threatened early within the second interval, with Jenni Hermoso firing into Mackenzie Arnold’s chest, earlier than Cooney-Cross had a long-range strike blocked.
The injured Raso was substituted to thunderous applause within the 58th minute for Larissa Crummer as Spain’s attacking strain continued to construct.
Goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold additionally wanted therapy on a calf/leg harm on the hour mark, however managed to proceed – and simply 90 seconds later, made a shocking save to disclaim
An extended go ahead break up Australia’s defence, with their wingers combining with a neat squaring go. However the West Ham keeper stood her floor and bought a leg to the shot, deflecting it out for a nook.
Matildas overwhelm Czechia in Gosford | 02:10
Courtney Nevin and Emily van Egmond entered the fray within the remaining 20 minutes in a defensive-minded transfer, with Cooney-Cross and Vine substituted. That noticed a shift to a five-player line of defense because the Australians sought to stave off wave after wave of Spanish assaults.
However within the 74th minute, Spain’s barrage lastly paid off, with left wing-back Olga Carmona firing a shocking volley into the underside nook from the sting of the 18-yard field.
The Matildas practically hit again instantly when Charli Grant floated a ball to Foord on the again submit, however she screwed her first-time shot huge.
Substitute Salma Paralluelo – a former sprinter – raced into the realm and turned the defenders, giving herself a gilt-edge probability to scale back te deficit additional solely to blaze her shot over the bar.
Arnold continued to rack up high-quality saves, whereas Australia got here near including to their tally on various counter-attacks.
Nevertheless it was Spain who discovered the scoresheet with just about the ultimate kick of the sport, with Redondo getting on the sting of a low cross from Marta Cardona on the entrance submit and whipping in a vicious volley.
GAME ONE: Matildas’ worrying early indicators earlier than thrashing European rival
Australia made two modifications from Thursday’s match, with devender Aivi Luik changed by Clare Hunt, the breakout 23-year-old centre-back who loved an excellent debut off the bench towards Czechia. Arsenal attacker Caitlin Foord changed Mary Fowler.
Matildas XI: Mackenzie Arnold; Charli Grant, Clare Pokinghorne, Clare Hunt, Steph Catley; Katrina Gorry, Kyra Cooney-Cross; Cortnee Vine, Sam Kerr (C), Caitlin Foord.