Australia’s Matildas have reignited their World Cup campaign with a come-from-behind win against Brazil and a big hand from the VAR.
It was a game full of excitement and controversy with the Matildas fighting until the end for a 3-2 win in Montpellier.
Coming off a disappointing loss and poor performance against Italy, Australia needed to come out strong playing against the experienced Brazilian side who suffered their first group match loss since 1995.
Coach Ante Milicic made a few changes to the line up with Emily Gielnik starting on the wing for Hayley Raso and Elise Kellond-Knight in as left back, with Clare Polkinghorne out with hamstring tightness.
The Matildas started the game off strong, playing with high energy and creating promising chances.
The 19th minute saw Tameka Yallop go down as she was clipped on the heel in the 18-yard box. The VAR review denied the possible penalty, due to an earlier hand ball by Yallop.
Minutes later, Kellond-Knight made the mistake of grabbing onto the shirt of Letitia Santos when being left one on one – making for an easy penalty call when Santos went down.
Brazil’s star striker Marta confidently stepped up for the spot-kick and made no mistake with the penalty, beating Lydia Williams’ dive, and giving them the lead in the 26th minute.
It continued to get worse for Australia.
In the 38th minute Tamires nutmegged Gielnik and was able to beat Ellie Carpenter, crossing it to Cristiane who perfectly directed the ball into the net for a 2-0 lead.
But the Matildas were not done.
With things looking alarming for Australia going into half time, three minutes of extra time were given.
Then came the moment Australia had been waiting for.
A great ball in from Yallop to Chloe Logarzo found Cailtlin Foord lurking on the far post and she slid in to get her first ever World Cup goal.
It gave Australia the confidence they needed going into the second half.
Then in the 57th minute Logarzo sent Sam Kerr running as she created a chance, striking the ball into the net to equalise 2-2.
Then came the miracle and the controversy.
In the 66th minute Emily van Egmond crossed the ball to the captain, Kerr, in a two-on-one where the lineswoman’s flag had gone up for offside.
But referee Esther Staubli decided to review it and the VAR, after some time, declared the goal valid.
The fans on both sides were stunned, with the Matildas contingent overjoyed to have the lead 3-2.
And that’s where it stayed.
When Milicic was interviewed post-game, he was in high spirits.
“Big result, and we needed it today,” he said. “A real Australian performance… to come from 2-0 down.”
Some will say Australia make it hard for themselves but the Matildas’ passion for the fight was indisputable.
Australia will take on Jamaica next on Wednesday at 5am (AEST).
Jamaica are currently sitting on the bottom of Group C, but will play Italy tomorrow morning. – @SamanthaJurman