THE Matildas progressed to the Semi Finals of an Olympic tournament for the first time with an unforgettable 4-3 win over Great Britain at Kashima Stadium on Friday night.
The seven-goal thriller saw W-League stars of past and present take centre stage, as the Green and Gold came from behind to draw level at full-time before surging ahead of Great Britain to secure an historic victory after 30 additional minutes of play.
In amongst a hat-trick to Great Britain forward Ellen White, a Sam Kerr brace, a Mary Fowler wonder-goal and Allana Kennedy’s powerful headed finish came a crucial penalty save from W-League 2020/21 Goalkeeper of the Season Teagan Micah, which sent Australia on the way to the final four.
Read on to see how all five stars of the 2020/21 W-League season fared in an instant classic at Kashima Stadium!
Micah endured incessant pressure from Great Britain’s star-studded frontline throughout her third appearance of the Games, and despite conceding three goals to Manchester City spearhead White, the young shot-stopper stood tall in the most crucial of moments to turn the tide of momentum in favour of the Matildas.
Micah made seven saves from ten shots fired on target throughout the 120-minute affair, including a magnificent penalty stop to deny Caroline Weir from the spot deep into the first half of additional extra time. Her magnificent intervention kept the sides locked on two goals apiece, leaving Fowler to blast Australia into a 3-2 lead less than two minutes later.
Micah’s penalty save, combined with Australia’s late flurry of goals, gave the Matildas the impetus to rise to the challenge and progress to the Semi Finals of an Olympic Women’s Football Tournament for the very first time. In the aftermath of the unforgettable occasion, Matildas fans rallied to nominate their emerging goalkeeper as the best afield.
7 saves. 1 penalty stop. A memorable performance. 🧤
— CommBank Matildas (@TheMatildas) July 31, 2021
120 lung-busting minutes were in store for Tameka Yallop on Friday night, as the 2020/21 Brisbane Roar midfielder operated alongside Emily van Egmond in the middle of the park for Australia against Great Britain.
Yallop took 66 touches, played 33 passes and provided the assist for Kerr’s 106th-minute finish, which put the Matildas 3-2 ahead deep into additional extra time.
Delivered on a platter and executed with precision, the third goal of four Matildas goals was one to savour as Yallop and Kerr combined to dismantle Great Britain.
After receiving just 10 minutes of playing time throughout the group stage, Matildas boss Tony Gustavsson provided Emily Gielnik with 40 more off the bench against Great Britain.
Gielnik came on with Australia trailing 2-1 before contributing to the comeback effort, taking 23 touches, laying 11 passes and firing two shots on goal in her time on the park.
So proud, what an unbelievable team effort. Up the tillies 💚💛 https://t.co/4cNcy0dM1z
— Emily Gielnik (@EGielnik) July 31, 2021
Kyra Cooney-Cross was part of Gustavsson’s triple substitution at the 80-minute mark, joining Gielnik and Fowler in coming on late as the Matildas searched for an equaliser before full-time.
Australia were to find the net three times throughout Cooney-Cross’ time on the field, as the teenager took 11 touches, passing seven times at over 85% accuracy. After his side crafted a 4-2 lead, Gustavsson elected to play it safe in the final stages of the contest, removing Cooney-Cross from action in place of defensive rock Clare Polkinghorne as the Matildas looked to see out the remainder of the game.
Polkinghorne replaced Cooney-Cross in the 108th minute of play, and the steely central defender managed two touches in her 12 minutes against Great Britain.
White made it 4-3 with five minutes to play to make Australia sweat, but with Polkinghorne as part of the defensive line an equaliser was not to follow, as the Matildas progressed to the Semi Finals.