The Australian women’s national team defeated Brazil, 2-1, on Saturday, September 16, in front of more than 15,000 fans in Penrith, the most ever for a Matildas standalone match on home soil. The home fans were treated to goals by Lisa De Vanna and Sam Kerr, while the North Carolina Courage’s Debinha got on the board for Brazil.
Watching the game, it would seem as the two sides were familiar with one another, and that’s because they were. The teams last faced off in their final game of the U.S.-hosted Tournament of Nations (ToN) on August 3, a 6-1 drubbing by the Australians that secured their tournament win. That recent match-up gave both teams a familiarity with the other’s style of play, and a much lower-scoring game was the result.
The opening half remained scoreless until the very end despite a strong attacking effort by the Matildas. Brazil opened up the game with the first real scoring opportunity (only to send it wide), and from there it was all Australia as the Matildas dominated possession early. The Brazilian defense fought hard to prevent the Aussies from opening up scoring and were successful until the 41st minute when DeVanna, who took over as the Matilda’s all-time leading scorer during ToN, added another goal to her record. DeVanna was played a short pass and volleyed it over the keeper from about 25 yards out to give Australia a one-goal lead before the half.
As expected, Australia came out of the locker room still riding the momentum gained from DeVanna’s goal, and they immediately started looking to extend their lead. Instead of capitalizing off that surge of energy, they nearly saw Brazil equalize twice—first through a dangerous free kick from Marta that went just across the goal mouth and next by a long-range missile from Andressa that goalkeeper Lydia Williams was able to stop.
Kerr thought she had finally gotten the goal she’d been hunting all night after hitting the back of the net in the 62nd minute, but the offside flag went up to negate it. Showing the same determination to score that has lifted her club Sky Blue FC past many opponent this season, Kerr struck again just four minutes later, heading home a ball flicked onto her by Alanna Kennedy. This time the flag remained down and the goal stood.
Down two goals to nil with more than 20 minutes left in the game, Brazil began cranking up their attacking presence. Minutes after Kerr’s goal, Cristiane nearly put the South American side on the board with a shot that hit the inside of the post, but Williams was equal to the task. However, the Seattle Reign keeper wasn’t able to deny Debinha, who got a step on teen defender Ellie Carpenter to go one-v-one with Williams before beating her with the shot.
Both teams continued fighting until the final whistle, with Kerr and Elise Kellond-Knight creating multiple chances for the Matildas only to be denied by the defense or to miss the mark. Australia was inches from extending their lead in the 85th minute, but the goal-bound ball was cleared off the line in the nick of time by the defense. Debinha nearly got another to level the score in the final minutes of the game, but Williams made the stop to secure a 2-1 win for the Aussies.
The win extends the Matildas’ undefeated streak to seven games, all of which have been against Top-15 teams. The lone draw came against Denmark, the runners-up in this summer’s European Championship. It’s an extremely impressive run for the sixth-ranked Aussies, who are continuing to prove that they are arguably the team to watch in the women’s game.
Australia will now look to sweep their three-game 2017 series against Brazil on Tuesday, September 19 when the two teams once again take the field, this time in Newcastle.