Australia have overcome an organized and determined Philippines side to register their second win of The Asian Cup and guarantee a quarter final appearance.
It was a slightly nervous and impatient first half by Australia. The Philippines defended deep and stayed close to The Matildas forwards. The first shots on goal came against the run of play as Australia dominated possession but neither shot troubled Teagan Micah.
A flowing interchange of passes between Ellie Carpenter and Kyah Simon created a good chance. However those moves were few and far between in a game where possession was occasionally hurried.
Sam Kerr broke the deadlock when she turned in a Steph Catley corner. The players celebrated with much more exuberance than any of the 18 goals on Friday night, as a sense of relief swept through the squad.
Kyah Simon added another minutes later as she latched onto Kerr’s flicked on header. The Philippines had barely recovered from the first before they were down by two.
Emily van Egmond’s fifth goal of the tournament, put Australia 3-0 up. She connected with Catley’s corner and although it was saved, she buried the rebound as Australia’s swagger returned.
As The Phillipines added forwards to try and claw back the deficit, it only resulted in more space for Australia. Holly Mcnamara, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Remy Siemsen and Cortnee Vine were brought on to keep the pressure up. Courtney Nevin gave Catley a well deserved rest on the left.
Despite the challenging start to the game, Australia finished the game in style and with a convincing score. Mary Fowler struck from the edge of the box to make the scoreboard reflect the team’s dominance.
AUSSIES WASTEFUL EARLY
Tony Gustavsson made some changes to the starting line up. Kyah Simon came in for Hayley Raso on the right. Her guile was favoured over Raso’s pace and Simon’s early crosses and combinations with Ellie Carpenter provided some good early opportunities for The Matildas.
Australia were wasteful in the first half. Steph Catley’s corners and crosses created the best openings but none could be turned into goals.
Sam Kerr and Alanna Kennedy both had good chances to head Australia into the lead but disciplined defending and mistimed leaps meant that the teams went into the break level.
The Philippines did not create many attacks themselves but, Australia would have been the less happy of the two sides at half time. Only one team’s game plan was working.
PATIENCE PAYS OFF
Gustavsson resisted the temptation to replace players after a frustrating first half. His trust in the selected players paid off. When the goals eventually came, they happened in quick succession.
Australia went from being on the verge of an upset to being in total control in the space of five minutes. The Matildas did not play to their potential in the first half but they kept up the pressure until the repeated efforts paid off.
Long term Matildas fans will feel comforted by this. The national team has always fought until the end when they are a goal down. However the pressure of favoritism is a different position to be in. They handled it well when their opponents were gaining confidence.
It was the cap that every fan of the A-League Women wanted to see. The league’s best player was introduced in the second half and Cortnee Vine made an instant impact. Her rapport with Carpenter was instant and the Sydney FC winger whipped in multiple crosses within minutes of coming on.
She ended the game without a goal but justified her selection in the team. Vine was taken to India for her ability to break down stubborn defenses and deadly wing play. She showed enough against The Philippines to indicate that “Vine Time” could happen more frequently in the future.
The finishing eleven, consisted of five current A-League players, including the entire front three. Australia did not show any drop off in quality or work rate, and game was a terrific advertisement for the local league.
Asian Cup, Mumbai Football Arena
Australia: 4 Sam Kerr (50m) Kyah Simon (54m) Emily van Egmond (68m) Mary Fowler (85m)