Australia has earned a scoreless draw against European powerhouse Sweden in Kalmar in their final Olympic warm up.
They head to Tokyo on the back of the confidence boosting result after some recent high scoring losses.
Sweden began the game stronger despite an altered lineup, pinning back Australia, but the Matildas defensive structure was able to withstand and absorb the early pressure.
The home side’s wingers were dangerous early, Madelen Janogy produced a beautiful piece of skill to nutmeg Ellie Carpenter but the chance was easily dealt with by a confident Australian back three.
Both sides had opportunities to take the lead in the first half, Australia was lucky to escape a miscued shot by Johanna Rytting Kanyeryd and Kyah Simon’s strike from a Kerr cross was straight at the keeper.
Hayley Raso rekindled her right flank partnership with Carpenter and the pair surged forward with the ball at every opportunity, releasing pressure from Australia and putting Sweden on the back foot in the process.
Sam Kerr came closest to scoring for either team when she cut in from the left and crashed her shot off the crossbar from 12 yards out with a shot that took the goalkeeper by surprise.
Despite a last-second scare for the Aussies from a dipping ball into the box, Teagan Micah calmly collected the ball as she had done all game to secure the draw.
AN IMPRESSIVE HIT OUT
Tony Gustavsson has remained confident in his methods and his players despite conceding 10 goals in two games to Germany and The Netherlands.
On the strength of the last week, his faith was not misplaced. The Matildas put in their best attacking performance under the new manager against Denmark and their best defensive effort against Sweden.
The Swedish coach kept some of their best players in reserve but the team is in form and has depth. A nil-all draw is an encouraging result for an Australian side that has struggled against European opposition.
STRONG PERFORMANCE FROM MICAH
Long regarded as a Matilda in waiting, Micah was given her chance against Sweden and took it as solidly as she does a cross into the box.
With the fitness of Lydia Williams under question, the number one goalkeeping position is up for grabs. Mackenzie Arnold has the international experience but Micah was unflappable against Sweden and a calming presence for her teammates and for nervous fans at home.
Her speed out of the box, distribution, and strong hands snuffed out Sweden’s chances. On the strength of this game and after Arnold’s horror day against Denmark, Micah might have played herself into contention.
Sam Kerr was industrious throughout the match, her first half cross teed up Kyah Simon for the best opportunity for either side up until that point and her second half shot could easily have bounced in on another day.
It is no secret how valuable the Chelsea striker is to Australia, so when she went down with what looked like a thigh complaint in the second half it was cause for concern.
She immediately removed the strapping from the area and substituted off but did not look to be in any serious distress.
Emily Gielnik soon followed suit leaving Australia with only Mary Fowler as a recognized striker for the closing minutes. Australian fans will be watching anxiously in hope that both incidents were just precautionary.
Kalmar Arena, Sweden
Referee: Ivana Martincic
Teagan Micah (GK), Clare Polkinghorne, Steph Catley (Courney Nevin 63m) , Emily Van Egmond, Tameka Yallop (Alanna Kennedy), Emily Gielnik (Aivi Luik 83m), Hayley Raso, Kyah Simon (Mary Fowler 63m), Kyra Cooney-Cross, Sam Kerr (Laura Brock 74m), Ellie Carpenter.
Unused subs: Caitlin Cooper, Charlotte Grant, Caitlin Foord, Beattie Goad, Mackenzie Arnold, Amy Harrison, Alex Chidiac.
Manager: Tony Gustavsson
Yellow Cards: Raso
Red Cards: None
Jennifer Falk (GK) Amanda Ilestedt, Emma Berglund (Nathalie Björn 46m), Magda Eriksson (Emma Kullberg 35m), Julia Roddar, Fillipa Angeldal, Kosovare Asllani, Caroline Seger, (Filippa Curmark 62m) Johanna Rytting Kaneryd (Sofia Jakobsson 85m), Rebecka Blomqvist ( Stina Blackstenius 62m), Madelen Janogy (Fridolina Rolfo 62m)
Unused subs: Hedvig Lindahl, Jonna Andersson, Julia Zigliotta Olme, Zecira Musovic, Olivia Schough, Mimmi Larsson.
Manager : Peter Gerhardsson.
Yellow Cards: None.
Red Cards: None
Image Supplied: Matildas