Matildas through to first Olympic semi-final with pulsating win over Great Britain
In a pulsating quarter-final encounter, the Matildas have qualified for the semi-finals of the Olympic Games for the first time in history thanks to a 4-3 win over Great Britain in extra time.
A brace from captain Sam Kerr and goals from Alanna Kennedy and Mary Fowler saw Australia run out victors in extra time.
This game had it all. Superstars Sam Kerr and Great Britain’s Ellen White and an Olympic semi-final the prize for the winner.
All the early heat came from Team GB and Matildas goalkeeper Teagan Micah was just superb.
They had so many chances, hit the woodwork numerous times and Australia’s shot stopper was like a brick wall.
Enter Sam Kerr charging down field, forcing a corner for the Aussies.
A perfect delivery from Steph Catley followed, and Alanna Kennedy opened the scoring with a soaring header, into the bottom left corner.
The Matildas started the second half with plenty of momentum but couldn’t manage a second, while Ellie Carpenter deserves a special mention for her superb role in defence throughout the match.
On the hour-mark Team GB pulled themselves level with a trademark Ellen White header into the left corner, not too dissimilar to Kennedy’s opener.
At the other end the Matildas were almost gifted a goal when a scrambling Team GB defence sliced the ball onto their own crossbar, but it wasn’t to be for Australia. A let-off for Team GB, and they took advantage of that moments later when White doubled her personal tally for the night and pulled Team GB clear, 2-1.
Commentator Brenton Speed was almost prophetic when he said the Matildas motto was ‘Never Say Die’.
It took brilliant composure from captain Kerr, in the shadows of full time to equalise. Kerr brought the ball down brilliantly in the box and, realising she had an unusual amount of time and space, she composed herself and slotted the ball home. The equaliser forced extra time.
A dramatic few minutes opened the extra time period with Great Britain awarded a controversial penalty. Micah was superb all night and again saved the day for the Australians as she thwarted the strike from Caroline Weir.
And now it was the Matildas’ time to take advantage of their good future. Teenager Mary Fowler brought the ball down brilliantly before turning at goal and unleashing a 20-yard strike, which ricocheted of the Team GB defender, before nestling in the top corner.
Within touching distance of the semi-finals, Kerr met Yallop’s cross with a perfectly-timed header which brushed the underside of the bar on its way into the net – 4-2 to the Matildas.
With 15 minutes still remaining Great Britain piled on the pressure in search of two goals, and with less than a minute remaining White sealed her hat-trick with a near-post header.
Game on again and a pulsating few minutes went by with desperate Matildas defending, but they held on to book their spot in the semi-final for the first time.