Sloppy Matildas made to pay in Canada loss

·3-min read

The Matildas have been made to pay for a second-half collapse against Canada, suffering a 2-1 defeat and raising more questions about their direction under head coach Tony Gustavsson.

Mary Fowler got the home side off to a perfect start on Tuesday when she scored in the third minute at Allianz Stadium, but Australia were punished for failing to capitalise on their first-half dominance.

A well-taken second-half brace courtesy of Canadian forward Adriana Leon gave the visitors victory and raised more questions about the cohesion of the Matildas less than a year out from a World Cup on home soil.

It means Gustavsson has a solitary win in 18 games against teams currently ranked in FIFA's top 20 and they have kept a clean sheet just twice in their last 10 games.

That will be frustrating for Football Australia, who have said the coach's position is not in jeopardy, because for the first 45 minutes the Matildas had one of their best displays in recent memory.

"I want to dissect it and analyse it but it's frustrating because I feel for those first 45 minutes it was the first time we had a complete performance," Gustavsson said.

"We were dominating Canada and it felt so good. At half-time we knew that Canada would come press the s**t out of us.

"We didn't match their speed of press (in the second half) and we didn't play fast enough and got dispossessed more often."

After three minutes, Fowler enjoyed a nice moment of link-up play with Sam Kerr and Cortnee Vine before finishing a move she started to give Australia an early lead.

Canada didn't manage a shot on target in the opening half and encouragingly for Gustavsson, who was without the injured Alanna Kennedy, the centre back pairing of Clare Polkinghorne and veteran Aivi Luik were able to deal with whatever Canada threw at them.

Caitlin Foord and Vine had chances to double their lead just before half-time and their inability to convert was to prove costly.

As has become customary with the Matildas under Gustavsson's regime, there is a yin to the yang and the second-half response was way off the pace.

Christine Sinclair made a break down the Australian left in the 48th minute and while her first cross ricocheted off Polkinghorne, her second found Leon.

The Manchester United forward, who scored the only goal in Canada's 1-0 win in Brisbane last Saturday, slotted past Lydia Williams with ease.

" I don't want to sit here and complain but I do want to look at some of those situations and see if there were some referee calls that could have been different," Gustavsson said.

"There were a couple of offsides and handballs and sometimes that happens in games, but I want to look at that."

Leon added a second but it was the nature of how she scored that would have been the most alarming.

Defender Jade Rose picked the ball up deep, waltzed through the Australian midfield and threaded a crisp ball behind the Australian defence for Leon to tuck away after the hour mark.

Australia desperately scrambled to find an equaliser late on but none was forthcoming and they will need to be much improved against Gustavsson's native Sweden in November.