Wanderer Bryleeh Henry has made her CommBank Matildas debut, coming on as a substitute in last night’s friendly match against Brazil at CommBank Stadium.
It was a special occasion for multiple reasons with Alanna Kennedy captaining the side in her 100th appearance and Tony Gustavsson earning a win on his first trip to Australia since becoming the head coach.
The Commonwealth Bank Matildas started the brightest, undoubtedly buoyed by the sounds of 15,270 fans in the stands, many singing the national anthem with them.
Tameka Yallop had a golden opportunity to open the scoring after the ball broke kindly for her but Brazilian ‘keeper Leticia made herself big and heroically denied Yallop, copping a knee to face in the process.
The Matildas attacked ferociously with the ball pinging around the box off an Australian corner but to no avail. Australia looked fast and fluid, finding joy down both flanks.
The rivalry between these two sides meant the game was unsurprisingly physical with Australia forcing Brazil into conceding lots of corners and set pieces.
Brazil’s few forays forward were dealt with, with Lydia Williams calmly claiming all shots on goal.
Australia finally broke the deadlock minutes before halftime through Clare Polkinghorne.
The Matildas had looked likely from set-pieces all evening and the opening goal was no exception. Steph Catley’s free kick in found the head of Sam Kerr.
The striker defied expectations and headed the ball across the face of goal rather than towards it and straight into the path of the oncoming Polkinghorne to tap in.
The halftime break saw Emily van Egmond enter the fray for Kyah Simon who is continuing her return from injury. Despite not having to do much work in the first half, Lydia Williams was still sharp as ever, making an early save in the second half to keep Brazil out.
Brazil’s halftime changes tested the mettle of the Commonwealth Bank Matildas’ defence but the whole backline stood strong.
As with previous games between these two sides, a 1-0 result was unlikely with both teams adding to their tally. Mary Fowler doubled the Commonwealth Bank Matildas lead in the 66th minute. Van Egmond found the Brazil defence ball watching and placed the ball perfectly for Fowler to head home.
Brazil responded immediately pouncing on Kennedy’s miscontrol of the ball, not helped by the slippery conditions, with Adriana taking her shot coolly.
The introduction of Marta and Debinha showed that Brazil still had plenty of talent to terrorise the Australian defence and dampen the homecoming.
But van Egmond put the result beyond doubt with a beautiful team goal. Fowler and Kerr combined in the build-up with Kerr eventually releasing Steph Catley who pushed forward on the wing. She took the ball to the by line before cutting it back for van Egmond to hit home.
To add to the celebratory mood, the Commonwealth Bank Matildas welcomed two new players to the fold with Remy Siemsen and Bryleeh Henry coming on for their respective debuts.
The Commonwealth Bank Matildas have now defeated Brazil in their last six meetings with a chance to extend that streak on Tuesday night.
Commonwealth Bank Matildas v Brazil
Date: Tuesday, 26 October
Venue: CommBank Stadium, Sydney
Time: Kick-off 8:00pm AEDT
Tickets: Get your seat for the match HERE