Matildas defeat Denmark to book Quarter Final berth

The CommBank Matildas have defeated Denmark 2-0 to advance to the quarter-finals of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™.

Goals to Caitlin Foord and Hayley Raso on either side of the half-time break were decisive in front of 75,784 raucous fans at Stadium Australia.

Tony Gustavsson opted for an unchanged team to the one that defeated Canada 4-0 last time out, with Emily van Egmond and Mary Fowler the two central strikers up front. 

Denmark started the game with great energy and endeavour. Their plan was for their midfield four to sit in an organised semi-circle block and spring a pressing trap on the Matildas, putting pressure on the player on the ball.

This energy meant that the Danes had the better of the opening exchanges. As expected, new Bayern Munich signing Pernille Harder threatened, while former Melbourne Victory player Rikke Madsen had their best opportunity of the half, but was unable to connect with a low cross in front of goal.

The defence holding firm meant that the Matildas were presented with chances in transition. In the 29th minute, they took one with clinical precision. Mary Fowler turned away from her defender after receiving the ball in midfield and played a perfectly weighted through ball to an on-rushing Caitlin Foord, who calmly slotted her shot underneath Danish goalkeeper Lene Christensen to grant Australia the lead.

The goal – and the resulting roar of the crowd – seemed to lift the Australians, who finished the half much stronger than they began. Foord in particular looked likely, that drop of the shoulder and turn causing issues for the Danish defence.

The Scandinavians came out fighting in the second half. Once more, Harder was the main threat, with fans holding their breath whenever the superstar was on the ball. However, they were unable to create anything clear-cut.

After a period of sustained pressure from set pieces it was the Matildas who doubled their lead. Kyra Cooney-Cross found Fowler from a wide position, passed it to Van Egmond, who had the presence of mind to hit one more pass to Raso at the back post. ‘Ribbons’ made no mistake, slotting home her third of the tournament.

The 80th minute saw even more reason for cheer. Captain Sam Kerr made her first appearance of the tournament, entering the field to rapturous applause. She had a good chance, too, firing over the crossbar not long after coming on.

The game opened up as Denmark pushed for an equaliser and opportunities were created at both ends. However, the defence – bolstered by the addition of Clare Polkinghorne at the end of regulation time – held firm, and managed their third clean sheet out of four games at the global finals.

It was a complete performance from Tony Gustavsson’s side who have now equalled their best-ever performance at a FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Australia will now play the winner of France v Morocco in Brisbane on Saturday.