The Australian Women's National Team defeated Zimbabwe on Tuesday, August 9 in their Olympics group stage finale. With an impressive 6-1 scoreline, the Matildas were able to clinch one of only two spots in the Olympic quarterfinals for third-place teams.
The game against Zimbabwe started out well, with an early goal in the first minute off the foot of Lisa De Vanna, assisted Katrina Gorry. Australia did seem a bit more complacent, maybe too comfortable with the fact that they we definitely going to beat Zimbabwe. There was plenty of back and forth, though it was difficult for Zimbabwe to even get the ball off their defensive half of the field as Australia had possession of the ball 66% of the first half.
Zimbabwe did seem to take advantage of the perceived complacency. Australia scored twice and stepped up their game a little bit more. Clare Polkinghorne scored the second goal of the match in the 16th minute, and Alanna Kennedy scored the third goal in the 37th minute. Both goals came off of corner kicks.
As the first half progressed, Zimbabwe seemed to get more comfortable on the pitch in Salvador and started getting possession more and more. Despite their step up in game play, they still were unable to put the ball away and get on the board.
During the second half, game play got more aggressive, and Zimbabwe stepped up their game, gaining control of the ball more often, and forcing Australia to step up their game if they wanted to keep the lead, and gain more points.
The fourth goal for Australia came shortly after halftime off a play where Stephanie Catley passed to Kyah Simon,who easily found the back of the net. In the 54th minute, after a corner kick again, Michelle Heyman put the ball behind the goalkeeper to once again up the tally.
Just a few minutes later, after another attempt from Australia, the goal keeper from Zimbabwe, Chido Dzingirai, went down. After being examined by team trainers, she was carried off of the field on a stretcher, and she was replaced by Lindwe Magwede.
The sixth and final goal for Australia came from Michelle Heyman in the sixty fifth minute. Zimbabwe's first and only goal of the match came from Emmaculate Msipa in the 90th minute, before the stoppage time began. The 5th minute of stoppage time saw yet another Zimbabwe player, Shelia Makoto, taken out on a stretcher.
With that, Australia secured its place in the quarterfinals, leading the other third place teams. Zimbabwe has bid farewell to the Olympics with this final match, but they did still make history with their qualification for the Olympic group play matches.
Australia will be facing Brazil in Belo Horizonte on Friday, August 12 at 9 p.m. EST.
Australia Lineup: Mackenzie Arnold; Clare Polkinghorne, Stephanie Catley, Allana Kennedy; Katrina Gorry (Michelle Heyman, 52'), Elise Kellond-Knight, Caitlin Foord (Ellie Carpenter, 75'), Emily van Egmond, Chloe Logarzo; Lisa de Vanna (C) (Larissa Crummer, 74'), Kyah Simon
Unused Subs: Lydia Williams, Laura Alleway, Tameka Butt, Samantha Kerr
Head Coach: Alen Stajcic
Zimbabwe Lineup: Chido Dzinirai (Lindiwe Magwede, 57'), Lynett Mutokuto, Shelia Makoto (Out 90 + 4'), Nobhule Majika, Emmaculete Msipa, Talent Mandaza, Rejoice Kapfumvuti (Daisy Kaitano 74'), Mavis Chirandu, Marjory Nyaumwe, Eunice Chibanda, Kuakwashe Basopo
Subs Not Used:Rudo Neshamba, Samkelisiwe Zulu, Erina Jeke, Rutendo Makore, Felistas Muzongondi
Head Coach: Shadreck Mlauzi