The Brazilians struck first and struck last, but it wasn’t enough to overcome another game-winning performance by star striker Sam Kerr, who completed a brace to lift Australia past the visitors, 3-2, in front of a record home crowd in Newcastle.
As with the first time Australia and Brazil met this year, Tuesday’s match was a high-scoring affair, with a total of five goals put away between the two sides. This time, however, it wasn’t as one sided as Australia’s 6-1 Tournament of Nations-winning victory. Instead, it was a battle to the finish as the Matildas thwarted a late comeback attempt to defeat the Marta-led Brazilians for a third time this year.
In more deja vu back to the Tournament of Nations (ToN), Brazil came out hot and struck within the opening minute of the game. During ToN it was Camila who gave Brazil the early lead, but this time it was Fabiana who opened up scoring on the day. Marta received the ball on the left flank and dribbled through the Aussie defense, turning to move towards goal before sending a low ball right across the goal mouth. Bia Zaneratto was one step away from getting on the end of Marta’s pass, but Fabiana was there to tap it in to score right before the minute mark.
The two teams battled it out for much of the first half, with the Matildas unable to find the back of the net. That changed when Kerr leveled the score in the 38th minute off an Emily van Egmond-swinging free kick from the right side of the field, which Kerr was able to forcefully head past the keeper from just inside the area.
Kerr was instrumental in the Matildas’ second goal of the night, which was put away in the opening minutes of the second half when she split a pair of defenders with a through ball intended for Katrina Gorry. Gorry scuffed her shot as the goalkeeper came off her line to challenge her, but Caitlin Foord, who had entered the game at the half, was able to one-time the loose ball into a wide-open goal to give the Aussies the lead.
The Matildas then increased their lead through Kerr, who completed her brace in the 66th minute. Chloe Logarzo played a one-two on the near flank before sending in a textbook cross for Kerr right in front of goal. Kerr simply had to redirect Logarzo’s service with the side of her foot to put it past the keeper and into the back of the net.
Kerr’s goal would be the game-winning strike after Marta pulled Brazil back within one in the closing five minutes of the match via penalty. Defender Ellie Carpenter took the Brazilian captain down inside the box, awarding the Brazilians the penalty kick. Marta stepped to the spot and easily converted to send the game to a 3-2 final result.
The win keeps the sixth-ranked Aussies perfect against No. 10 Brazil in 2017 and improves the Matildas’ record to 7-1-1 for the year. That record includes Australia’s first ever win over the top-ranked U.S. and a win over the current European Champions, the Netherlands. All seven wins are also against Top 15 opponents.