Sizzling Sam Scorches Chile

Impetus editor Ben Gilby reports on The Matildas’ win over La Roja.

Australia 2-1 Chile

Australian superstar Sam Kerr grabbed a brace as The Matildas beat Chile in front of a record crowd for a stand alone women’s match Down Under.

Despite the East Fremantle born striker’s two goals, a fantastic debut from 25 year-old former Adelaide Crows Australian Rules star Jenna McCormick and another outstanding show from 19 year-old Ellie Carpenter, Australia will be far from satisfied with their victory. The Matildas were dominant for the vast majority of the game, but a combination of deep defending from La Roja and inconsistent passing accuracy led to a far from comfortable look to the scoreboard.

The first ever women’s soccer international to take place at Parramatta’s stunning new Bankwest Stadium saw an all time high of 20,029 spectators clad in green and gold in the Western Sydney city – a figure which comfortably beat the previous highest crowd for a Matildas home game of 16,829 at Newcastle’s McDonald Jones Stadium against Brazil in 2017. The home support were on their feet within two minutes as the Matildas took an early lead.

A free-kick, some twenty yards outside of the area, centrally located saw Emily van Egmond’s lofted ball chested down by Sam Kerr who turned and half volleyed past the Chilean keeper Christianne Endler. It was Kerr’s 29th goal in her last 31 games for her country.

Australia had all the ball and territory at this stage, indeed it took Chile twelve minutes to mount anything close to an attack. Daniela Zamora played the ball in and Camila Saez hooked the ball over Lydia Williams and into the net, but it was ruled out for offside.

The Matildas hit back once more and a superb ball from Caitlin Foord found Ellie Carpenter who scampered past several attempted challenges from the South Americans and earned a corner which was cleared.

Sam Kerr had Australia’s next chance when the green and golds earned a corner after Steph Catley’s attempted cross was charged down for a corner. The flag kick was met by McCormick’s header into Kerr. The Western Australian striker chested it down and turned but her shot was blocked.

Shortly afterwards, Kerr’s chipped pass found Catley on the left. The Melbournian played in Carpenter who, in turn saw Hayley Raso in space. Her ball resulted in Foord volleying over.

Australia almost paid the price for failing to add the second goal that their dominance deserved. Just after the half-hour mark, Maria Jose Urrutia’s outstanding cross was laid back to Daniela Pardo who fired her volley over the bar.

Before the break, the Matildas had three further opportunities. First, Carpenter fired in a low cross towards Kerr who was unable to get a shot away. Then, McCormick’s ball was met by Catley who headed wide. The ball was in the net in the closing stages when Raso’s ball was fired home by Kerr but she was offside.

Chile began the second half on the front foot. They earned three corners on the trot which Australia struggled to clear, but their lead remained intact, largely thanks to Francisca Lara’s shot being blocked and Carla Guerro’s header scrambled away.

Sparked by their narrow escape, Ellie Carpenter dribbled down the right and then came across the by-line but there was no end product. Australian frustration grew when both Hayley Raso and Sam Kerr were taken out off the ball, but no free kick was awarded for either challenge. Frustration grew further as an alarming lack in accuracy developed in the Matildas’s build-up play.

Above: Sam Kerr’s incredible goal-scoring record in 2019 continues. Photo: Ben Gilby

As the game entered the final quarter, it was Sam Kerr who produced the goods once more. Caitlin Foord played a delightful lofted pass inside her own half which landed at the feet of Kerr who advanced to a one on one with Endler in the Chilean goal and fired home. It was Kerr’s 40th goal in 40 matches for club and country in the calendar year 2019. She is now just ten goals away from becoming Australia’s all time leading goalscorer.

The second goal saw The Matildas’ quality improve briefly. Steph Catley laid back a pass to substitute Amy Harrison on the edge of the box, but her shot was over. Ellie Carpenter went on a trademark dance down the right, and laid the ball back to Emily Gielnik who miskicked in front of goal only for the ball to find Chloe Logarzo who missed with the goal gaping in front of her.

Buyoed by Australia’s inability to kill the game off with a third, La Roja had the better of the final exchanges. Carla Guerro hit a shot narrowly wide. With three minutes left, Daniela Zamora was played through beautifully by Camila Saez. Her effort was pushed away for a corner by Lydia Williams at full stretch. From the resulting flag kick, Saez was not picked up by either Carpenter or Logarzo and run in to power a free header past Williams.

Chile’s late goal served as a reminder to The Matildas that they need to kill teams off when they get the opportunity. For all the quality in the Australian side, they concede too many goals.

The two nations will square off again on Tuesday at Adelaide’s 16,000 capacity Coopers Stadium. Australia will need to up the urgency and increase the accuracy. If they can do that, there will only be one winner.

Teams:

AUSTRALIA: 1) Lydia Williams, 21) Ellie Carpenter, 4) Clare Polkinghorne, 2) Jenna McCormick, 7) Steph Catley, 10) Emily van Egmond, 3) Aivi Luik, 6) Chloe Logarzo, 9) Caitlin Foord, 20) Sam Kerr, 16) Hayley Raso. Subs: 12) Sarah Williams (GK), 18) Mackenzie Arnold (GK), 15) Emily Gielnik, 22) Amy Harrison, 23) Emma Checker.

Goals: Kerr 2, 71.

CHILE: 1) Christiane Endler, 2) Rocio Sato, 3) Carla Guerro, 18) Camila Saez, 4) Francisca Lara, 16) M-F. Mardones, 14) Daniela Pardo, 11) Yessenia Lopez, 20) Daniela Zamora, 9) Maria Jose Urrutia, 10) Yanara Aedo. Subs: 12) N. Campos (GK), 23) A. Canales, 5) J. Rey, 6) N. Lopez, 7) Y. Torrealba, 8) K. Arraga, 13) F. Piatilla, 15) S. Galaz, 17) J. Toro, 21) R. Balmaceda.

Goal: Saez 88.

Attendance: 20,029, BankWest Stadium, Parramatta.

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