Matildas stun Brazil 3-2 with dramatic World Cup comeback win
The Matildas have kept their World Cup dreams alive by pulling off one of the most dramatic comebacks in Women's World Cup history, beating Brazil 3-2 in a bruising, barnstorming encounter that set pulses racing in front of more than 17,000 fans in Montpellier.
Australia, one of the favourites for the tournament when it kicked off just six days earlier, was 2-0 down seconds before the interval with their World Cup hopes hanging by a thread.
But a Caitlin Foord goal seconds before the break gave them hope, and then Chloe Logarzo, with an improbable strike from midfield brought them level. A controversial own goal by Brazilian centre back Monica completed an extraordinary, morale boosting recovery.
This was the stuff of both fairy tale and World Cup legend, a match replete with controversy over VAR rulings and debate over penalties awarded and not given as the tension ratcheted up with each minute played.
Brazil is an acknowledged powerhouse of the women's game and had not conceded a goal in group play in the previous four World Cups. To score any goals at all – never mind three – was a rare achievement: to do so having gone two behind was remarkable.
This is the sort of win that can build confidence and restore self belief that was shaken by that first match loss to Italy.
The Matildas have always believed that they could challenge for the title, but that defeat, coupled with the criticism of their tactics and the debate over whether sacking previous boss Alen Stajcic so close to the tournament had contributed, had taken a mental toll.
This will go a long way to killing off both those narratives.
Matildas coach Ante Milicic had rung the changes and shuffled his line up, leaving out the injured Clare Polkinghorne, shifting regular left back Steph Catley to centre half and bringing Elise Kellond-Knight in at left back.
Hayley Raso, who started against the Italians, made way on the flank, with Emily Gielnek brought in on the wing to add power, strength and height as the Australians looked to force the pace and tempo.
They certainly began brightly, dominating possession and playing with an intensity that was lacking, certainly at the start, of their opening game with Italy.
This was a more cohesive unit, pressing high and not allowing the Brazilians, who so often rely on moments of individual skill and expression from their start players, to settle on the ball.
The Matildas looked to impose themselves on the game right from the outset, although they were given an early warning of what could occur if their concentration lapsed when Brazilian forward Debinha found Tamires who forced goalkeeper Lydia Williams to dive and gather at her near post.
After that the Matildas made the running, with Yallop and Chloe Logarzo working hard in midfield to win the ball and create opportunities, but could not capitalise on their possession.
Sam Kerr headed wide from an Ellie Carpenter cross, then the same player provided another cross for Tameka Yallop to head wide.
The Australian midfielder was then brought down by Formiga, earning the latter a booking that will keep her out of the Brazil's final group game.
The Matildas had a penalty shout in the 20th minute when Yallop went down in the area after a challenge by Thaisa. Swiss referee Esther Staubli consulted the VAR and had a long look before ruling that the ball had hit Yallop's arm in the build up, negating any penalty claim.
Three minutes later Staubli was again waving at the spot, this time at the other end and without any VAR consultation as she awarded Brazil a penalty after Kellond-Knight had grabbed a handful of Leticia Santos' shirt as she challenged for the ball, allowing the Brazilian to go to ground.
It looked soft, but Santos was given every opportunity to make the most of Kellond-Knight's indiscretion, and did.
The South American's superstar Marta stepped forward to slam past Williams to put Brazil ahead against the run of play.
The Matildas almost got back on level terms soon after when Kerr got to a Kellond Knight cross before the defender but her stabbing shot was saved by Barbara.
Brazil grew in confidence after their goal and began to get more into the game.
They doubled their advantage seven minutes from half time with a goal that exposed Australia'Read More – Source