Tony Gustavsson almost did not see Mary Fowler’s goal.
The strike that put Australia 3-2 up in extra time forced the manager to interrupt his discussion with assistant coach Mel Andreatta and burst into euphoria.
He was hard at work at the time, preparing the next substitution or listing potential penalty takers perhaps.
That sums up this side over the past few months, always at work and constantly looking to improve.
After not playing for over a year, the Matildas had only eight games and two months to go from a 5-2 loss to Germany to an Olympic semi-final.
COVID-19 prevented the team from getting together in Australia and the Euro 2022 qualifiers made it nearly impossible to organise friendlies where the majority of the side is based.
They have improved slowly but undoubtedly since that first big loss and the 5-0 one that followed to The Netherlands.
All that hard work, all that tinkering, and all that patience culminated in one of the biggest triumphs in Australian football history.
There were a multitude of factors that attributed to the wonderful nature of the fixture. It was the first appearance against a British side in competitive football, a quarterfinal, and a contest that went at full pace until the final seconds.
Australia was coming off a lacklustre draw against the USA which neither side had any incentive of winning and once again their form and potential were questioned. How this game would go was anybody’s guess.
What transpired was a neutral’s dream match and an iconic one for Australian fans. A seven-goal game where the lead changed three times.
There was a shootout between two star and in-form forwards. Ellen White’s hattrick would normally be a career highlight, but a Sam Kerr brace was pivotal in securing the win for the Matildas.
It featured a battle between two generational fullbacks.
England’s best in Lucy Bronze on one wing and her successor at Lyon, Ellie Carpenter wearing green defending the other.
It had goals from set-pieces, goals from wing play, penalties given and then saved, and a career-making strike from Mary Fowler.
She has been around the squad since she was 15. Fowler occupied an odd place in Australian football. She clearly had talent, but only had a few months in the W-League before heading off to France where matches are not easily broadcast in Australia.
Her performances under Tony Gustavsson have removed any lingering questions over her ability, her loyalty, or her frightening potential. This is no longer a discussion about hype, Fowler is the real deal, both the future of the team and a player for the now.
She took her moment with a composure that belies her 18-years. The way she instantly controlled the high ball and turned to face the goal, fully aware of where she was and where the defenders were. The shot was deflected but it was on target initially.
This was a young player, in her first major tournament taking her opportunity, seizing the moment to change the game and delivering the biggest moment since Kyah Simon scored a winning penalty in the 2010 Asian Cup at the same age.
Up the other end, Teagan Micah was incredible, she made seven crucial saves and was a steady and commanding presence in a team that needed it more than ever.
Still only 23, this was Micah’s first Olympics but it will almost definitely not be her last.
In a little over three months, The Matildas have uncovered the next generation of stars, survived the “Group Of Death” and made the semi-final of the Olympic Games.
With a home World Cup fast approaching, an Olympic medal up for grabs and the merging of a Golden Generation with a crop of exciting young talents. The future is bright but after beating Team GB in a sporting classic, the present is perfect.