Six straight wins, including a big win against Spain, put the Matildas in a brilliant position ahead of the World Cup at home, writes TILLY WERNER.
The Matildas issued a warning to all World Cup favorites with a strong 3-2 win over Spain on Sunday at the CommBank Stadium.
Spain, ranked at No. 7 in the world, were no match for a wildly growing Australian team, who showed no sign of ring rust on Thursday against the Czech Republic to record their second straight win of this Cup season and sixth straight win from the Comes the last year.
A raucous crowd of 17,333 gave Spain a glimpse of the atmosphere awaiting them at the World Cup in five months. And if the Matildas can continue this form of giant-slaying at the tournament, they’ll have plenty to celebrate.
The Australians punished Spain’s higher defensive line, with Sam Kerr and Cortnee Vine making the most of their speed and attacking early, with two chances in the opening five minutes setting an aggressive tone for the first half.
“The first half was really good of us,” Matildas midfielder Katrina Gorry said after the game.
“I think we pushed high and went for them every time we got the ball. We were able to get the ball to them and they worked their magic.”
Vine’s spectacular first touch finish opened the Matildas’ account in the 12th minute before Clare Polkinghorne continued their incredible week with a goal of their own just three minutes later.
Leading by two goals within the first 20 minutes, the Matildas were relentless in threatening the Spanish goal every time they went forward, a far cry from the attacking problems that had frustrated them early against the Czech Republic.
As Spain worked to slow the pace of the game, they were crushed by the work performance of the Matildas’ midfield, with quick attacking changes giving the Spanish defense little time to organize and opening gaps for the Matildas’ attacking force to punish them .
And punish them.
Rested after an impressive run for Arsenal in the first game, Caitlin Foord made it 3-0 in the 41st minute, heading an unmarked Steph Catley cross into the center of the box.
Kerr appeared to have added a fourth soon after, but was recalled after the narrowest offside, the first of three disallowed goals for the Matildas.
The Spaniards looked heated, missing a number of free-kicks and struggling to push Australia’s movement into their attacking third. While their disorganized defense took a step towards order, switching from a back five to a 4-3-3 towards the end of the first half, the damage was already done.
Tony Gustavsson’s attacking structure saw Spain head coach Jorge Vilda play a 90-minute comeback and his team, who are still one of the best midfield teams in the world despite being under-manned, had few opportunities to get the ball through the middle.
“Whatever team Spain field, it will always be a world-class team and I think that gives us a lot of confidence,” said Gorry.
Spain controlled the tempo and gained more possession in the second half and were rewarded with goals from Olga Carmona and Alba Redondo Ferrer in the 73rd and 90th minutes.
“I think it’s an important reminder that we have to play until the last second,” said Gustavsson. “If you concede in overtime when you win it definitely takes a toll on the emotions but we can’t let that last goal cloud our view of the performance.”
Conceding the two goals was an unfortunate blow for Mackenzie Arnold, who otherwise played superbly for the Matildas before taking a nasty swipe from Redondo in a careless tackle.
It was an unlucky blow for Mackenzie Arnold, who was otherwise excellent for the Matildas, before taking a nasty hit from Redondo in a careless challenge.
The West Ham goalkeeper edged out Lydia Williams and Teagan Micah for the gloves against Spain and put on an important performance as Gustavsson nears a decision on his World Cup line-up. It is one of several decisions that Gustavsson weighs.
His offensive power appears to have stalled, although with Clare Hunt making a rapid transition from Matildas’ debutante to tournament starter, Gustavsson has shown he likes to adapt and accommodate more instances of potential call-ups.
With the Nations Cup trophy all but locked away, Gustavsson is likely to use the final game against Jamaica as an opportunity to test his bench before the bulk of the side return to Europe.
Earlier, the Czech Republic struggled for a last-minute goal to beat Jamaica 3-2. The result leaves the Jamaicans alone and without a win at the bottom of the Nations Cup.
https://www.codesports.com.au/football/matildas/cup-of-nations-the-matildas-scored-three-first-half-goals-against-spain-in-a-warning-to-all-world-cup-favourites/news-story/0f39fa0414291228ae3be42dd1c8823a?nk=01ca5b4f1b48918a2297a0cb1b91e882-1676827926 Cup of Nations: The Matildas scored three first-half goals against Spain to warn all World Cup favorites