The Matildas and Brazil could not be separated, as Brazil managed to claw their way back from two goals down to earn a deserved draw in front of 12,087 people at Commbank Stadium.
Australia got off to the perfect start in what was an end-to-end first 10 minutes, as Clare Polkinghorne capitalised on some poor Brazilian defending from a corner to score her second goal in as many games.
In a first half in which Brazil had a staggering 14 shots, Australia’s defence managed to hold firm, though they needed the intervention of the post on one occasion.
However, it would be Australia and not Brazil who would score next just after half time. Ellie Carpenter embarked on one of her trademark runs forward, with the fullback releasing Sam Kerr, who fired a brilliant shot beyond the Brazilian keeper. She is just one goal away from equalling Tim Cahill’s goalscoring record for Australia.
Brazil would get a goal back in the 64th minute, as defender Erika benefitted from lax defending off a corner and headed the ball past Lydia Williams.
And Brazil were level just seven minutes later, with Debinha taking advantage of a spill from Williams and was able to force the ball home from close range.
The game ended at breakneck pace, with both sides posing massive threats on the counter-attack, however neither team was able to find the killer blow, with both team’s defences able to successfully deny the world class attackers on the field.
MARTA AND DEBINHA SHOW THEIR CLASS
Brazil’s star attackers – who were rested on Saturday – were both elevated to the starting line up for this clash. And their impact and threat was clear to see right from the off.
Compared to a more measured, long-ball approach seen on Saturday, Brazil instead focused on winning the ball in the middle of the pitch and releasing quickly to allow Marta and Debinha to run at a retreating Matildas defence.
Their brilliant skill on the ball and their direct running caused massive headaches for Polkinghorne and Allana Kennedy, and the attention they received allowed some of Brazil’s other attackers the chance to hurt the Matildas, with Adriana and Kerolin having big chances in the first half thanks to the work of Brazil’s leading ladies.
They may be veterans, but they both oozed class as Brazil put the Matildas under a mountain of pressure in the first half. And they both played crucial roles in Brazil’s goals, with Marta getting the assist for the first and Debinha earning herself a deserved equaliser.
THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT
The Matildas young up-and-comers have garnered huge amounts of praise for their recent performances, and Kyra Cooney-Cross and Mary Fowler did little to quieten the noise surrounding their brilliant form.
Cooney-Cross retained her position in the centre of midfield, whilst Fowler shifted to the right in order to accomodate the returning Emily Van Egmond. And Fowler’s energy and combination play with Yallop and Ellie Carpenter caused Brazil a mountain of problems in the first 10 minutes.
The trio had some brilliant one-touch football going down the right hand side, with Carpenter in particular benefitting from this, producing some dangerous crosses, one of which led to the corner that Australia scored from.
Fowler and Cooney-Cross were also producing some sublime long balls for the likes of Foord and Kerr to feast upon, further highlighting their technical ability.
Whilst Cooney-Cross made way at half-time, Fowler was shifted back to centre midfield, where – based on her current form – she could make that spot her own.
Not to be outdone, Carpenter’s marauding runs forward eventually resulted in the assist for Kerr’s goal, highlighting her importance to the team at such a young age.
A FANTASTIC ADVERTISEMENT FOR WOMEN’S FOOTBALL
Womens football is currently at a critical phase in its development. With off the field issues threatening to undermine the brilliant progress of the Matildas, it is crucial that home games such as this provide high entertainment and appeal to casual audiences as a home World Cup looms large.
This two-match series illustrated this quality.
With both teams choosing to throw caution to the wind and adopt attacking strategies, the game ended being a pulsating match, where both teams utilised the riches of attacking talent to put on a brilliant show.
The atmosphere in the stands only enhanced the spectacle, with the Brazilian fans in one corner of the stadium offering a fantastic Samba backdrop with their constant chanting; it certainly lifted their country as they fought back from 2-0 down.
This game combined with the first game on Saturday showed just how good women’s football is in this country at the moment. With the combination of world stars like Sam Kerr and Marta contrasted with the abundance of young talent within the Australia squad, it reminded us of how uplifting and fun this team – and sport- is to watch after the game has gone through a rough patch off the field.
International Friendly: Commbank Stadium
Australia 2 (Polkinghorne 10m, Kerr 54m)
Brazil 2 (Erika 64m, Debinha 71m)
HOW THE MANAGER REACTED:
“Talk about entertainment huh! That’s what football is all about, this was a proper quality football game.
“I think there was some improvement defensively in this game. They didn’t get in behind us as many times as they did in the first game, we were better when reading when to drop off.
“Of course, I’m disappointed that we conceded from that corner. They scored too easily and that’s something we need to work on.”
Image Source: Football Australia