Australia took to the field to face New Zealand in their first game of the Toyko Olympics.
Earlier in the day the group was blown wide open by Sweden defeating the U.S.A and the winner of this game would go second in the group.
The Matildas began the game on the front foot, passing the ball confidently in the final third but were unable to forge a clear opening.
Tameka Yallop made the breakthrough in the 20th minute, Kyah Simon and Sam Kerr combined to play her through and she cannoned the ball in leaving the goalkeeper with no chance.
Sam Kerr broke her goal-scoring drought with a strong near post header from an in-swinging Catley corner to send the Matildas in 2-0 up at halftime.
The second half saw chances at both ends early and Kyah Simon would have been disappointed not to score with an attempted toe-poke beyond Erin Nayler.
Nayler saved again from an open Caitlin Foord header and Simon again came close after pressuring the goalkeeper.
Simon again forced a close-range save from Nayler as The Matildas pressed for a third goal. She had enough chances for a hatrick but it was not to be and was replaced by Mary Fowler.
New Zealand sent a scare through the Australian camp when Rennie knocked a header past Lydia Williams in injury time but the job was done and The Matildas go second in the group.
MATILDAS EXPERIENCE PAYS OFF
From the starting lineup, only Raso and Luik were making their Olympic debut’s and both are extremely experienced players.
After giving youngsters opportunities in the pre-tournament friendlies Tony Gustavsson started with players that had tournament experience.
It showed Australia was comfortable and confident early in the game. They took the early initiative and an early lead.
TONY TELLS THE TRUTH
After some friendly games that were difficult to watch at best and worrying at worst the manager was adamant that the results did not matter, only the process.
As the losses piled up and the goals did not, fans were becoming restless.
The coach promised a different level of performance once the tournament started and he did not disappoint.
This was the most attacking, complete, and exciting hit out under the new manager in his most important game to date.
IT’S UPHILL FROM HERE
It was a good start to The Olympics by Australia but the tests get tougher. Sweden are up next, although the Aussies matched them a few weeks ago in a 0-0 draw both teams looked very different in the opening games of this tournament.
The U.S.A suddenly look beatable but cannot be taken lightly, they might be more dangerous now that they have been wounded.
Australia has improved but will have to get even better as the games go on.
Australia: Lydia Williams, Steph Catley, Clare Polkinghorne, Ellie Carpenter, Aivi Luik, Emily Van Egmond, Hayley Raso (Alanna Kennedy 82m) , Kyah Simon (Mary Fowler 74m), Cailtin Foord, Sam Kerr, Tameka Yallop (Kyra Cooney-Cross 74m)
New Zealand: Erin Nayler, Anna Green (Cleverly 68m), Abby Erceg, Meikayla Moore, Ali Riley, Ria Percival, Katie Bowen, CJ Bott (Rennie 88m), Olivia Chance (Paige Satchell 68m), Betsy Hassett, Hannah Wilkinson
Yellow Cards: CJ Bott ’71 Katie Bowen ’81
Olympics Football, Ajinomoto Stadium Toyko.