A-Leagues icon scores FOUR first-half goals as Matildas book ticket to Paris Olympic Games

The Matildas have booked their place at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games after a crushing 10-0 second-leg qualifying win over Uzbekistan (13-0 aggregate) at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday night.

Canberra United and Liberty A-League legend Michelle Heyman scored four – yes, FOUR – first-half goals in a devastating display to inspire the home side to an 8-0 lead at half-time and the eventual 10-0 full-time result.

The Matildas beat Uzbekistan 3-0 in Tashkent last week to take a commanding lead in the two-legged tie and put qualification to the Olympic Games beyond doubt early into the return leg, with Heyman bagging three in just 12 minutes as the Matildas led 4-0 just beyond the quarter-hour mark.

Dilrabo Asadova diverted a Kaitlyn Torpey cross into the back of her own net inside the opening minute of play as the Matildas took a 1-0 lead; Torpey added a goal of her own in the 22nd minute, after Heyman’s hat-trick, to make it 4-0.

Then came goals to Mary Fowler, Caitlin Foord and lastly a fourth to Heyman to bring the first half to a close with Australia holding an 8-0 (11-0 aggregate) lead.

Heyman ran riot for the Matildas at Marvel Stadium on Wednesday night.

Heyman’s fellow A-Leagues star Tameka Yallop (Brisbane Roar) came off the bench in the second half as Western United midfielder Chloe Logarzo remained an unused substitute in Melbourne.

Hayley Raso scored Australia’s ninth in the 68th minute but the goals were harder to come by in the second half, with Amy Sayer wrapping it up with Australia’s 10th deep into stoppage time.

Post-game, Heyman gave an emotional account of her experience at Marvel Stadium.

The 35-year-old spent six years outside of the Matildas squad before the current camp, coming off the bench in the first leg against Uzbekistan to make her first appearance in green and gold since 2018.

Then came Wednesday night’s avalanche of goals for the Matildas striker who had tears in her eyes pre-game as the national anthem rang out around Marvel Stadium in front of 54,120 fans.

“I thought I was tired, I thought I was done but I got that little bit of fire (back),” Heyman told Network 10. “I really wanted to come back and show people I could do it. I needed that break. It’s okay to have that break, it’s okay to come back at 35 and have some fun out there because I know I can still do it.

“To be able to have the support from the girls, from the coaching staff to believe in me is just an incredible feeling. My partner, she’s seen the hard work I’ve put in to get back in this team.

“This is so rewarding to know that age is just a number. Still got it!”

“I’m not going to lie, I was hoping for five!” Heyman added. “I told (head coach Tony Gustavsson) five, just wait until I get five and you can take me off but he said he was going to save my legs.

“I have that confidence and that self belief now and I know I can do that, I can finish, I’m good when I get in the box and my main goal was to make sure I was in the box at all times because then it’s just a tap in.

“I just know what I can do and I’m proud of myself. To put the boots back on and come back and play for Australia is just incredible.

“It is the most amazing feeling. To walk out here and to hear the crowd, this is something I’ve never been able to be a part of. To feel that, to get the goosebumps, I had tears when the national anthem was (playing).

“Just to know that all of Australia supports us and backs us is such a beautiful moment and I’m so grateful that I got a second chance to take this in. I’m beyond proud, and over the moon.

“It’s beautiful. Not a lot of the young kids knew who I am because they missed that generation of Matildas back then. So for myself, to be 35 to come out here and just love the game. I’m playing with a smile on my face and I know that’s when I play good football.

“That’s what I wanted to bring into the team, because it doesn’t always have to be so serious. We can enjoy the game, smile and win. I’m trying to bring that in and show the kids that it’s still fun!”

You can watch Michelle Heyman in action for Canberra on Friday night in the Liberty A-League! Click here to buy tickets as Canberra travel to face Logarzo’s Western United at City Vista Recreation Reserve, or find out how to watch on Paramount+ and 10 Play.