Despite hosting a two-goal lead in an exciting draw with Brazil, some played Matilda’s lead and others battled in Tuesday night’s end-to-end affair in Parramatta.
Captain Sam Kerr led from the front with passion and great skill, while a sensational performance from a young substitute almost stole the show, and the plunging fullback Ellie Carpenter was at her most dangerous best.
Here’s how each player performed!
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Lydia Williams: 6
Could not do much to reject any of the goals, even though she was quite unlucky, as her attempt to save for the equalizer only found the crossbar and fell directly to Debinha to equalize. Williams claimed a series of difficult high balls. Like in the last game, she was often sent the ball without open opportunities to play it to, which resulted in her playing the ball over the sideline more than once.
Ellie Carpenter: 7.5
Her attacking raids down the right flank ignited Australia’s attack and she could easily have had more than a single assist – especially if Foord had scored from six yards out in the sixth minute. Carpenter was caught out of position due to her forward moves on a couple of occasions, but that is the risk Australia is taking with the young star and one who was richly rewarded for Kerr’s goals. Carpenter increasingly played as a reverse back in the second half, driving into the box via a more central channel instead of the sideline and always finding space near the edge of the area for a potential cross or cutback pass. Australia’s best.
Alanna Kennedy: 5.5
Just like on Saturday, Kennedy’s defense left something to be desired. She made five blocks left with 15 interceptions and passes, but was the defender who was most to blame for the opening after failing to close the space on the corner. Her pass was better than in the first meeting – Australia’s best with 89 per cent – with her long balls sprayed to wingers as a remarkable move.
Clare Polkinghorne: 6.5
Goals in back-to-back matches are a sensational return, and both were calm and safe finishes – today is a volley that was far from simple. She can now boast 13 goals in 138 international appearances. Polkinghorne made a number of important blocks and passes, in particular he managed to stick the ball away from Marta’s dangerous toes more than once. Fought hard throughout the competition, but there are still questions about the central defensive pair – questions that were not answered tonight.
Steph Catley: 5.5
Did not rise as regularly on the field as his opposing back, but certainly had his hands full throughout the match defending Brazil’s talented attacking corps. Her passes down the sideline were good at times and sloppy to others (73 percent completion, the worst of the defenders), but she was rarely taken out of position.
Kyra Cooney-Cross: 4.5
It was difficult throughout the first half as Brazil flooded the midfield and pretty much played around her. Was switched out during the break after being at the end of a football lesson – although it was hardly her fault. Gustavsson said: “She’s really really good in the middle of the park. She can play a 10, she can play an 8, she can play a 6.” But he also mentioned that she should continue to develop her pace in ball possession, with Matildas too slow with the ball as Brazil played with great intensity and pressed hard. It was a key factor in her poor care performance as she only completed 65 per cent.
Emily van Egmond: 6
Promoted to the starting lineup at the back of a goal and an assist from the bench in a crucial Saturday game. She looked comfortable in an attacking midfield position, but was one of many guilty of throwing possession away with poor passes. Played physically and was not pale to make his tackles.
Tameka Yallop: 5.5
Worked extremely hard in defense as well as offense. Made a goal-saving tackle midway through the first half, but should have cashed in a penalty kick to bring Marta down the field on the verge of the break. Was taken out during the break, but it was due less to her individual performance than the need for fresh legs and a tactical shift to lift Brazil’s dominance.
Mary Fowler: 6.5
Once again, she showed versatility as she played both out wide and then in a more central offensive midfield role in the second half. Her quick pass exchanges with Sam Kerr and Carpenter were when Australia were at their best offensively, and her seven passes into the attacking third were the most of any Australian. It was already her 18th Matildas appearance with five goals this year – only next to Kerr for Matildas. After a best performance on Saturday, she was again one of Matildas’ best Tuesday night.
Caitlin Foord: 4.5
It just wasn’t Foord’s night. Gave away a handful of fouls as she tried to stop Brazil’s attack from the front and made three tackles in a hard-working defensive effort – but she did not make too much of an impact going forward. Was not crucial with the ball at her feet into the final third, completing only half of his 18 passing attempts. Foord should have done much, much better in the sixth minute when Carpenter put her up just six yards from goal with a brilliant cross. “I should have scored that,” she admitted after the match.
Sam Kerr: 7
Kerr scored a record-breaking 49th Matildas goal in just his 102nd appearance and continued a remarkable scoring streak. The finish was clinical, turning and shooting quickly from the edge of the area before her marker could recover. As the focal point of the attack, Kerr constantly made diagonal runs backwards to receive the ball and lay it off to a teammate. It’s an incredibly difficult role and not one that typically brings out her best – which is when she steams towards goal in the chase for the ball. But playing as a goalkeeper is crucial for Matildas to play from the back and quickly go on the attack.
Kerr did not get much service in the final third, but was always looking to create something. Kerr played six balls into the box, most of any Australian.
Kyah Simon: 6
Was very lively from the bench and threw herself at every match and she was confident with the ball for her feet forward. Her breadth in attack stretched Brazil’s defense and she was crucial in Kerr’s goal.
Clare Wheeler: 6.5
Thrown into the match at the break, her work as a defensive midfielder was fantastic. She made six tackles – Australia’s most, despite only playing one half – and a couple of well-timed interceptions. In just his second international (after receiving just 13 minutes on Saturday), Wheeler showed plenty of intensity and combined well with Emily van Egmond in a double-pivot, despite Tony Gustavsson revealing that he had never coached Matilda in the formation before a rapid two-minute break analysis. She was always willing to join the attacks and combine with the attackers when van Egmond could hold the midfield.
Bryleeh Henry: 5.5
Ran hard but had little impact – only touched the ball twice in his eight minutes.
Angela Beard: 6
When Brazil chased a late winner, Beard worked tirelessly to maintain the goal.
Courtney Nevin: 6
Like Beard, Nevin came off the bench with the match fine-tuned and was ready for the task – which brought lots of intensity and physicality to the defense. Made a sensational double-kick in the 90th minute to dismiss Marta on the edge of the box, which was signaled by Gustavsson for special praise. Her set piece delivery, which erupted crosswise to the box, was particularly appealing.