With back-to-back wins to the tune of 4-0 and 2-0, the Matildas have completely destroyed the myth that they're a one-woman team. The Aussies advanced to the quarter-finals of the Women's World Cup on Monday night, beating Denmark 2-0 in a brilliant display.
Calls had rung out after their shock loss to Nigeria in the group stage that the Matildas had no hope without Kerr. But the likes of Caitlin Foord, Mary Fowler and Hayley Raso have put those claims to bed.
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Kerr played her first minutes of the World Cup on Monday night, coming on for a 15-minute cameo at the death. But many of her teammates stole the limelight from the superstar striker.
Foord scored Australia's first goal after a sensational ball from Fowler from inside her own half put Foord into open space. Foord then completed her brilliant run with a calm and clinical finish to put the Matildas up 1-0.
Stop what you're doing and just look at the reverse angle of Mary Fowler's assist 🧠💫
And then listen to Stadium Australia going OFF!
Delivering on the world stage for the Matildas. Sublime.
Watch 📲 https://t.co/7uRyfyPy1f#FIFAWWC #OptusSport pic.twitter.com/QdoHYLP63B
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) August 7, 2023
Raso then scored her third goal of the World Cup when she completed a brilliant attacking play from the Aussies, with Fowler and Foord once again having a huge impact. The Matildas now have six different goal-scorers so far in the tournament - Raso, Foord, Fowler, Steph Catley, Emily van Egmond and Alanna Kennedy. So much for a one-woman team.
Fowler's moment of brilliance lit up the football world in the first half when her sensational ball set up the Matildas' opening goal. The youngest member of the Matildas squad looked right to Van Egmond before unleashing a precision pass to put Foord away.
“Mary has been class this whole tournament,” Foord said. “You know when she’s on the ball, she’s going to create and it makes my job easier. She has unbelievable talent and we’re very lucky to have her.”
Fowler was also heavily involved in her side’s second goal, playing a one-two with Kyra Cooney-Cross before sending in the pass which led to Raso’s strike. “I didn’t think we activated Mary as much as we could have, especially in the first half,” coach Tony Gustavsson said.
“We looked dangerous on the break and she is key to that. The way she weights passes to get players in is world class.”
You could see that ball from Mary Fowler was millimetre perfect from the second it left her foot. Just brilliant. She’s announcing herself to the world as not just a future star but one right now. pic.twitter.com/rpAQhbBvac https://t.co/dRFspa0Wjy
— Mark Gottlieb (@MarkGottlieb) August 7, 2023
— Trent Copeland (@copes9) August 7, 2023
— Robert Grasso (@RobertGrasso) August 7, 2023
That ball from Mary Fowler to release Foord!
Counter attack at its best. #ausden
— Tim Michell (@tim_michell) August 7, 2023
— Ms T 🧵@trudesintas (@MsTrudes) August 7, 2023
What an incredible, unbelievable, perfect assist from Mary Fowler right there. That’s the good stuff.
— Luis Paez-Pumar (@lppny) August 7, 2023
Cailton Foord's masterclass in Matildas victory
Foord was arguably the Matildas' best on a night that showed Australia's huge potential - especially considering Kerr is now back in the mix. "I don't think we really feel the pressure," Foord told reporters.
"We're just enjoying our performances and building on that. We want to keep building and keep coming out better, we've set the bar now to what our performance is and what the bare minimum is. We know we have to keep taking it to another level if we want to go all the way."
Gustavsson said: "Tournament football is about playing the game in front of you, whatever that looks like and find a way, and this team have proven now that they can always find a way. They always score goals...
"As long as we can be solid defensively, we know we have individual brilliance, we have set plays, we have goal-scorers in this team and we have multiple as well. Not just Sam Kerr - we have multiple options to score goals."
While heavyweights Germany, United States, Brazil and Canada having already crashed out, the Matildas appear a genuine contender to lift the World Cup. But they're not looking beyond Saturday's quarter-final against France.
"That's obviously the dream. Yeah, I mean, everyone's here to to do that, right?" Kerr said about potentially winning the whole thing. "But we've said from the start, even before the tournament, we're taking this one game at a time and we're not going to look too far ahead because that's when you slip."
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