Hunt and CommBank Matildas crowned Cup of Nations winners

Wanderer Clare Hunt and the CommBank Matildas have lifted the Cup of Nations trophy in Newcastle after overcoming a lively Jamaica side 3-0.

Long-range strikes from Katrina Gorry and Caitlin Foord, and a second international goal for Alex Chidiac, were enough for the CommBank Matildas to take all three points in the final game of the tournament.

The team moves within one result of equalling their all-time consecutive win record, with seven wins in their past seven games.

There were two changes from coach Tony Gustavsson from the team that defeated Spain on Sunday night. The right side of the 4-4-2 formation that has been so successful in recent times saw the changes, Charli Grant and Hayley Raso coming out of the side for Courtney Nevin and Larissa Crummer.

The dangers that Jamaica posed were evident early on. In particular, Kiki Van Zanten found plenty of space in behind the defence down the right hand side during the first half, and Kayla McKenna was able to fashion a number of opportunities.

The first of these came in the 16th minute, where the consistently impressive Mackenzie Arnold was forced to come out and smother the ball ahead of an onrushing McKenna.

Despite looking less than convincing, it was the CommBank Matildas who scored the opening goal. Katrina Gorry unleashing from range has become a familiar sight to fans over the years and tonight was no exception, curling the ball into the top corner after Caitlin Foord teed her up a perfectly weighted pass.

Jamaica continued to press. In the first half, they won 61% of duels, underscoring their physicality and the challenge that they presented to the CommBank Matildas coaching staff.

Their best opportunity came in the dying moments of the first half. McKenna once again found herself in behind the defence, 1v1 with Mackenzie Arnold. As she did several times against Spain, Player of the Tournament Arnold stuck a leg out – maintaining the clean sheet, and the lead, for the CommBank Matildas at halftime.

The break saw two substitutions for the side, with Charli Grant and Alex Chidiac coming on the park for Clare Polkinghorne and Larissa Crummer.

Chidiac was a like-for-like replacement for Crummer on the right hand side of midfield, but the introduction of Grant saw a reshuffle of the backline – Courtney Nevin went over to her more familiar left back position, Steph Catley came into the centre of defence, and Grant took up her usual position at right back.

The substitutions soon paid dividends. Alex Chidiac found the back of the net for only the second time in international football, smashing home a strike on her left foot after finding her way around the Jamaican defence. She was played in by the similarly impressive Katrina Gorry who in addition to her goal was constantly involved in play, both on and off the ball.

Chidiac was one of the outlets for the creative impetus in the second half that was missing in the first. Much like the Czechia game, it was after the break that the CommBank Matildas did their best work.

In her current form it was always going to be difficult to deny Caitlin Foord a goal, and she delivered once more. After playing a one-two pass with Sam Kerr, Foord smashed a thunderbastard from outside the area to make it three for Australia.

While they were more subdued in the second half, Jamaica continued to create chances – in particular, on the counterattack. It was one such occasion where Charli Grant showed an example of her fine form, getting back to cover after a Jamaican counter in the 75th minute to deny them an opportunity to get a goal back.

Foord almost had her second of the night in the 82nd minute. It took a brilliant stop from Rebecca Spencer to deny her, finding a shot after Jamaican captain Allyson Swaby went to ground in the box. There were credible calls from Foord for a penalty, but it mattered nought in the end.

Jamaica pushed hard in the final minutes to come away from the match with a goal. Mackenzie Arnold was forced into one last fine save in the 87th minute to keep her second clean sheet of the tournament.

There was a heartening moment with only a few moments to go, with Tameka Yallop making her first appearance since an ankle injury acquired in September.

The CommBank Matildas will ultimately be pleased with the win, the clean sheet, and a perfect Cup of Nations.