Despite a strong first half by Australia, Spain eventually showed why the are one of the favourites for the upcoming Euro’s.
The Matildas set up defensively with much of the team playing deep and Tameka Yallop in defence. For 44 minutes of the game it worked well against the highly fancies opponents.
Tegan Micah was busy early with a crucial touch before strongly claiming a cross in the opening minutes. Spain had plenty of the ball but were played offside on most occasions.
It took until the closing moments of the first half to break the deadlock. Aiana Bonmati cut inside Courtney Nevin and struck a perfect long range goal past the diving Micah.
Spain doubled their lead in similar fashion in the second half, this time from even longer distance by Mariona.
Close range goals to Gonzales and Garcia made it 4-0 before the hour mark.
GRANT UP TO THE LEVEL
With much of the first-choice squad rested, this match was a chance to find some answers to immediate questions. With star right back Ellie Carpenter temporarily sidelined, a solution at right back was needed. Rosengard’s Charlotte Grant has shown glimpses of her quality on other occasions for Australia, but that was mostly in an attacking sense.
Against Spain, she was needed deep in defence for the entirety of the first half, and she played very well. Grant is hard to beat for pace, but showed good composure and no sign of nerves against a squad of Champions League winners.
She was disciplined and physical. Some vital clearances and sharp tackles halted some promising Spanish attacks.
She has always been an exciting talent with the ball at her feet. She showed what she can do without it in a role that Australia desperately needs depth.
SPAIN AFFIRM THEIR REPUTATION
This was an exciting fixture because it was an extremely difficult one. Over the past three years, Spain have steadily established themselves as one of the powerhouses of women’s football. At club level, Barcelona have been dominant and Real Madrid have been fast rising. At international level, they are one of the favourites to win the upcoming Euro’s in England.
Much of their fear factor is in Alexia Putellas. Widely considered to be the best player in the world, she was kept well in check by Courtney Nevin in the first half. Even without a significant contribution from the Ballon Do’r winner, Spain were capable of putting seven goals past Australia with relative ease.
The Matildas were not overwhelmed in general play, but Spain’s patient possession style and individual talent meant that goals felt inevitable.
They always do with these players. This is the result that most of this squad are accustomed to on a weekly basis.
Tony Guastavsson values a full squad contribution. The players coming off the bench are seen to be as important as those who start. He rang the changes in the second half, Princess Ibini, Remy Siemsen, Amy Sayer, Taylor Ray and Jamilla Rankin came were introduced to mixed results.
The defensive cohesion of the first half was disrupted, and the new faces were thrust into the game just as Spain hit top gear. However, the attacking third looked more connected to the midfield. Vine was able to get forward a lot more and Grant was unlocked in an attacking sense.
Amy Sayer was unlucky not to score for Australia when she ghosted in with a header. Jamilla Rankin was slightly outclassed but showed that if she is not ready for the worlds in-form side right now, she will be in future.
The defensive discipline of the first half was undercut but an inability for the midfield and strikers to connect. The best chance fell to Katrina Gorry from distance. Although they conceded six goals in the second half, the attack looked more capable.
Finding that balance against Spain is one of the great tasks in world football. Few teams have been able to achieve it.
Spain 7 (Aiana Bonmati 44m, Mariona 48m, Gonzales 53m, Garcia 57m, 81m Guererro 89m, 90m)