Australia women’s national team clinch victory in the opening match after beated Ireland women’s national team with a score of 1-0 in the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 Group stage, Group B at Stadium Australia, Sydney.
Australia controlled possession for the first half and were rarely threatened in defence, conceding just one off-target shot in the opening 45 minutes. But the Matildas failed to find a with the best of their slim opportunities coming from corners.
But just five minutes into the second half, Ireland’s hard-nose defence fell apart in a moment of madness.
As a speculative long ball from Kyra Cooney-Cross floated towards the Irish area, defender Marissa Sheva shoved Matildas and new Real Madrid winger Hayley Raso in the back, sending her crumpling to the ground.
The referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot and VAR upheld the seemingly straightforward decision, with left-back Catley blasting the resulting attempt into the top corner.
The once-cagey affair immediately opened up from that point, with the world number 22 visitors desperate to find an equalizer.
The Australians had their backs to the walls for much of the remainder of the match, with Ireland turning flooding forwards and bombing balls into the box, forcing the Matildas defence to repeatedly scramble the ball to safety.
That included a brilliant punch from Australian keeper Mackenzie Arnold to deny Ireland captain and Arsenal star Katie McCabe a goal direct from a corner (an Olympico) with 20 minutes to play.
But the Matildas weathered the storm and continued to attack on the counter, creating a number of chances of their own in the closing stages.
Australia Coach Tony Gustavsson turned to his substitutes bench to shore up the defence as the match wore on. Veteran midfielder Emily van Egmond was the first to enter the fray, before Australia’s most-capped player, centre-back Clare Polkinghorne, shored up the defence in the final ten minutes.
But the Australians were in for one final scare in the 90th minute when inexperienced but extremely impressive centre-back Clare Hunt conceded a free kick on the edge of the area for a push in the back.
The wall did its job to deflect the shot just over the bar, before Arnold again played the hero to bat away the following corner. Ireland got a header to the corner that immediately followed but Australia escaped and held firm until the final whistle sounded.
Source : Fox Sports AU
Credit Photo : FIFA