SYDNEY — Australia received the Cup of Nations with their 3-2 win over Spain securing the Matildas the silverware after a three-goal first half for the 2023 Girls’s World Cup co-hosts preceded a late rally from The Crimson.
Cortnee Vine‘s opening purpose was a stunner. Hayley Raso‘s ball throughout the highest of the field discovered Vine, whose candy first-time hit left goalkeeper Misa Rodriguez diving however unable to cease it.
Clare Polkinghorne continues to moonlight as a striker as she added a second purpose to the scoresheet and purpose No. 16 to her personal worldwide tally. Sam Kerr may solely muster a looping header following Raso’s cross however Polkinghorne was in the correct place — aided by a beneficial bounce — to complete from an acute angle.
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Caitlin Foordon her return to the beginning lineup, made it three by ghosting between the Spanish defenders to go residence from a Steph Catley set piece — one of many Matildas Most worthy attacking weapons.
The away facet dominated the second half, creating wave after wave of assault, clearly constructing to some form of finish product. A few of their finest possibilities got here by way of the likes of round dawn, Esther Gonzalez and Olga Carmona with Mackenzie Arnold being known as on to make some tremendous saves. However the Aussie shot-stopper couldn’t maintain out Olga’s strike within the 74th minute.
Redondo made it 3-2 within the ninetieth minute with a clear strike from shut vary to make issues attention-grabbing however Australia did sufficient to safe their sixth straight win.
1. Urgent vs. passing
Within the lead-up to the match Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson labelled this recreation a battle of urgent vs. passing. Spanish soccer is understood globally for its lovely passing actions and flowing soccer — no matter gender or age. The Matildas have at all times been a crew lauded for his or her physicality, which has been channeled into elite urgent.
The query for Australia turned how finest to method the issue Spain offered. They might have arrange extra defensively, utilizing a extra conventional No. 6 to scrub up messes whereas nonetheless adopting a whole-team urgent method. However Gustavsson has spoken all through his total tenure in regards to the attacking DNA of this Matildas facet. To take a fair hypothetical step again appeared at odds with what the Swede has been preaching for 2 years now.
As an alternative, the Matildas adopted the 4-4-2 that introduced them a lot pleasure within the again half of final yr, which allowed Kerr and Foord to press the centre-backs centrally, with Kyra Cooney-Cross and Katrina Gorry behind them and Vine and Raso out huge with Catley and Charli Grant of their respective full-back positions.
Whereas the full-field press from the Matildas provided one choice to fight Spain, it produced one other concurrently. The Matildas usually hunt in packs within the centre of the park once they press — if one is sticking the boot in to get the ball away from the opposition, the opposite is there to run away with the free ball. A number of instances this occurred, after which a direct go might be laid off to any considered one of Kerr, Foord, Raso or Vine.
By advantage of being so top-heavy, the Matildas had been by no means wanting choices to take advantage of these transition moments. Whereas Gustavsson praised this ingredient of his crew’s assault, he was simply as pleased with the variation of their assault as a complete from mixture play to set items.
Whereas the crew admitted to dropping off their press within the second half, they now have one other 45 minutes of proof as to what they’re able to.
2. The redemption of Mackenzie Arnold
It might be honest to say that the primary time these two sides met, in June final yr, nobody in green-and-gold had a very enjoyable day. Spain put seven previous Australia in what was the crew’s joint-second worst defeat of all-time. Sure, the Matildas allowed a number of gamers to overlook the window, giving them a relaxation and permitting different gamers an opportunity to style worldwide soccer, however that was little comfort for many who took to the pitch, like Mackenzie Arnold.
After the Matildas held on to half-time with no targets scored or conceded, Arnold was subbed on for the second half. It was then that Spain asserted their dominance, piling on purpose after purpose. Whereas correlation would not equal causation, Arnold struggled to regain the gloves at worldwide degree. Her type turned perplexing; she was so essential and so reliable for West Ham however seemingly could not reproduce that type for the Matildas.
The sport towards the Czech Republic noticed her first begin for the nationwide crew in 391 days and her first look since that Spain loss. She entered the window off nice type at membership degree. This time, for Australia, she delivered and backed it up once more towards Spain.
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She was there to paw away shut photographs, was wonderful along with her toes, and whereas the Matildas nonetheless conceded two, Arnold had already proved that she had turned no matter literal or metaphorical nook she wanted to. Gustavsson was delighted for her.
“I am extraordinarily joyful for Macca as a result of she has introduced the membership type and once more, this isn’t what we have performed,” he mentioned postmatch. “It is what she’s performed in membership and he or she’s introduced it into the nationwide crew and he or she had up to now, that is her personal phrases, possibly not been capable of deliver the membership efficiency into the nationwide crew surroundings. This camp, she has. I believe she’s grown mentally and bodily to have the ability to deliver that.”
Her teammate Emily van Egmond dubbed her the participant of the match, and you would be exhausting pressed to discover a higher candidate.
3. A lower than 90 minute efficiency was a… good factor?
It appears counter-intuitive to say that the Matildas not placing in a 90-minute shift 5 months out from the World Cup is definitely precisely what they need to be doing. However each Gustavsson and his crew have constantly rammed residence the truth that the Cup of Nations is a observe run for the World Cup.
The factor about observe runs is they do not must be excellent. And this recreation towards Spain, whereas confidence-inducing and fulfilling from a fan perspective, was not excellent. The crew has such little time collectively, and even much less time to observe in-game eventualities.
With a soft 3-0 lead at half-time, somewhat than sit again or maintain their foot on the accelerator, the crew modified formations. A number of substitutions had been made with Gustavsson stating they shifted to a extra fluid again 5 in defence, again three in assault setup through the second half.
Utilizing these alternatives to their fullest whereas additionally constructing the boldness of gamers and followers and honing what’s going to must be carried out come July is a tricky balancing act however, tonight not less than, the Matildas appeared to tick all three bins.
“I assumed we got here out, began very well, on the entrance foot, however on the finish of the day, this can be a prep for the World Cup.” captain Kerr mentioned postmatch.
“So we wished to strive various things and a outcome towards this crew, that has had some actually large outcomes over the past six, seven months, they beat the USA, they tied with Sweden. So we’re actually pleased with ourselves. Clearly would have appreciated to have completed the sport a bit stronger. However that is the time to love I mentioned, put together for the World Cup strive something.”
Finest and worst performers
Hayley Raso: The Matildas winger backed up her nice efficiency towards the Czech Republic with a very beautiful first half towards Spain
Mackenzie Arnold: The West Ham ‘keeper was large for the Matildas, stopping not less than three close to sure targets for Spain.
Olga Carmona: The Actual Madrid participant was notably good in assault and scored a surprising strike to get Spain on the board within the second half.
Larissa Crummer: She was the Matildas substitute who was given probably the most time on the park however she was virtually unsighted for her 32-minute cameo.
Jenni Beautiful: Barring one shot on course, the most-capped participant on this Spanish nationwide facet didn’t present a lot of the play that had defenders throughout the globe shaking of their boots.
Ivana Andres: The left-back was routinely confirmed up within the first half towards the tempo and guile of each Vine and Raso.
Highlights and notable moments
Soccer Australia partnered with Sydney WorldPride 2023 earlier within the week and the Matildas proudly wore LGBTQIA+ Pleasure-coloured numbers on the again of their jerseys for the sport towards Spain. It is the primary time an Australian nationwide soccer crew has taken half in a Pleasure initiative and it regarded fairly schmick as properly.
We 🏳️🌈LOVE🏳️🌈 to see it pic.twitter.com/W39zr1PaAz
— Marissa Lordanic (@marissalordanic) February 19, 2023
Vine continues to be a beginner on the Matildas block however she could have already scored among the best strikes of her budding nationwide crew profession. The poor spiders had no likelihood.
.@cortneev9: footballer and spider internet cleaner 🕸️
What a begin in Parramatta!
🎥: @10FootballAU #AUSvESP #WeAreMatildas #CupOfNations pic.twitter.com/QkylCnCKC8
— CommBank Matildas (@TheMatildas) February 19, 2023
After the match: What managers, gamers mentioned
Kerr on Foord’s purpose: “Her purpose really, she was meant to be blocking for me and I advised her do not block for me, you may simply get in and I ought to have gone myself really, as a result of I most likely would have scored.”
Foord on the efficiency: “It is annoying to concede however I imply on the finish of the day, you are going to inform me iwe’d beat Spain 3-2, I would take that.”
Kerr on the Pleasure numbers: “We now have such an inclusive crew — at all times have and doubtless at all times might be. So it was one thing we had been actually enthusiastic about.”
– The Matildas are at present on a six recreation profitable streak, stretching again to October 2022.
– Spain conceded three targets in a recreation for the primary time in 51 video games.
Australia: With the Matildas win, they’ve claimed the Cup of Nations. They may look to spherical out the event with a win towards Jamaica.
Spain: Whereas Spain’s loss is a blip, they are going to look to complete the Cup of Nations strongly as they face the Czech Republic.