'That's a joke': Crucial call haunts Matildas in Olympic agony

·Sports Reporter
·5-min read
Sam Kerr was denied a late first half goal, after the Matildas were whistled for a foul on the free kick she scored from - leaving Aussie fans up in arms. Pictures: Getty Images/Channel 7
Sam Kerr was denied a late first half goal, after the Matildas were whistled for a foul on the free kick she scored from - leaving Aussie fans up in arms. Pictures: Getty Images/Channel 7

The Matildas were robbed of what appeared to be a certain goal late in the first half of their Olympic semi-final against Sweden.

Sam Kerr looked to have netted Australia's first goal against the Swedes off a free kick, but the referee whistled the Matildas for a foul - with Kerr's goal subsequently waved off.

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Though the Matildas held the upper hand for much of the first half, salt was rubbed into the wound when Sweden opened the scoring soon after half time.

The second half was another gruelling back and forth battle, with the Matildas again gaining control of the game later in the half.

Perhaps typical of what was ultimately a frustrating night for the Matildas, Kerr slipped and fell on a crucial chance to go one on one with Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl in the 79th minute.

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Sweden's first score, through Fridolina Rolfo, proved insurmountable despite a genuinely even contest between the two sides.

The loss consigned the Matildas to a bronze medal playoff against the USA, with Sweden moving on to face Canada in the gold medal match.

Though the Matildas still have plenty to play for, fans on social media remained filthy that Kerr's first half goal was disallowed.

Confusion reigned over why or even who the foul was called on.

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The Matildas were desperately unfortunate to have given up the goal to Rolfo, who only scored after Aussie keeper Teagan Micah impressively saved a strike that had deflected off another defender.

But her desperate backwards save wasn't able to deflect the ball over the crossbar, paving the way for Rolfo to put Sweden ahead.

Despite the immense pressure from the Matildas, Sweden did enough to fend off several chances to move on to the gold medal match.

The Matildas woes were further compounded when defender Ellie Carpenter was sent off in extra time, red-carded for a late challenge.

As a result, Carpenter will be unable to play the bronze medal match against the USA.

Canada stuns Team USA in Olympic football semi-final

The U.S. women’s national team crashed out of its chase for Olympic gold with a dud of a 1-0 loss to Canada here on Monday, a fitting end to a pursuit in which the most dominant soccer team in the world never hit top gear.

Officially, the Americans will play for bronze on Friday because of a 75th-minute penalty, conceded by Tierna Davidson for a foul on Deanne Rose, awarded after a video review.

Canada’s Jessie Fleming converted it. Backup U.S. goalkeeper Adrianna Franch just barely couldn't save it.

But really, the Americans fell short of the final because they were poor, throughout the Games and here on a sleepy, sticky-hot evening at the Ibaraki Kashima Stadium. They had no rhythm. No composure. No verve.

Instead, there were errant passes. Sloppy touches. Fatigue. Frustration. And a first loss to Canada since 2001.

"Sucks," Megan Rapinoe said, in response to a question about what was going through her head at final whistle. "Really sh—y."

Head coach Vlatko Andonovski and fans alike had envisioned a fluid, ferocious USWNT that pressed opponents high up the field, picked them apart through midfield, and pounced on mistakes. It did very little of that here in Japan, throughout the tournament and Monday night.

It tried, but didn’t have the legs to stifle teams in the attacking half, and didn’t have the sharpness to play the beautiful, clockwork soccer that it knew — or thought — it could play.

"I think that's one of the most frustrating things," Rapinoe said. 

"We just — I don't know. It's not like we have a bad vibe. The group is feeling good and everything. But we just haven't been able to find that juice that we normally do. So, just, yeah, sucks."

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