Australia 7-0 Chinese Taipei
By Ben Gilby
The Matildas opened their Olympic Games Qualifying campaign with a comfortable victory over Chinese Taipei in Campbelltown, Sydney.
Australia were in control from the very start, and the statistics shown after the final whistle just emphasised the gulf between the sides. The Matildas had 80% of the possession, made 743 passes to Taipei’s 187 and had 28 shots on goal. In truth they could easily have scored at least another seven.
Despite Sam Kerr being named on the bench, with Westfield W League top scorer Kyah Simon taking her place as the focal point of the attack, Ante Milicic named a strong side for the game, the first of three qualifiers for his team over the coming seven days. Jenna McCormick, so impressive in November’s two friendlies against Chile, kept her place in defence.
The Matildas were passing their way around Chinese Taipei from the kick-off. Elise Kellond-Knight created an early chance for Steph Catley, but the visitors cleared. It took only nine minutes though for Australia to get on the board with an inch perfect ball played through for new Arsenal signing Caitlin Foord to latch onto and hit home.
Seven minutes later, it was almost 2-0 when Emily van Egmond’s effort dribbled agonisingly wide. Almost immediately afterwards, Steph Catley was involved with Hayley Raso before playing in van Egmond who again couldn’t quite get on the target.
After 23 minutes the second goal finally arrived for the Matildas and Emily van Egmond was involved yet again as she and Chloe Logarzo, a new signing for Bristol City, combined to dispossess Chinese Taipei on the edge of the box and played in Caitlin Foord who walked the ball in.
Hayley Raso created the Matildas next chance after she went on a quite magnificent diagonal run from midfield into the box but she was tackled just before pulling the trigger.
Just after the half hour mark, the third goal finally arrived when Steph Catley’s angled run from out wide ended with her confidently lofting the ball over Chen in the Taipei goal for a rare goal which she celebrated with glee.
Five minutes later, it was 4-0 as van Egmond played a chipped ball into the box for Foord to complete a 29 minute hat-trick. It remained that way at the break.
The second half was a repeat of the opening stanza with the Matildas dominating possession to the extent that they could, effectively score whenever they chose.
Four minutes into the second period, Hayley Raso forced a fine one handed save from Chen and, seconds later, Kyah Simon hit a shot narrowly wide.
After 54 minutes, Raso scored the goal her performance deserved. In a sweeping move which began when Chloe Logarzo muscled Zhro off of the ball (at worst by holding a bit of her shirt, and certainly not elbowing her in the face which the Taipei midfielder’s actions suggested) and found Raso who skipped past attempted tackles and crashed the ball home.
Raso was involved in the next opportunity from the Matildas. Caitlin Foord cut in from the left wing and found the Australian number sixteen whose deflected shot looped up high into the hands of Chen.
Sam Kerr was introduced on the hour, and it took just four minutes for Chelsea’s January signing to make her mark. Logarzo played in a lovely ball which Kerr controlled instantly and shot home for the sixth goal of the evening.
Less than a minute later, Logarzo found Kerr again and the Western Australian hot-shot found the net again, but she was ruled offside, by about a big toe’s width.
With eleven minutes to go hat-trick hero Caitlin Foord was substituted to a rousing reception and replaced by Emily Gielnik.
Hayley Raso had another opportunity with another of her superb diagonal runs, but was closed down before she could get a shot away. Shortly afterwards Kerr was unlucky again as she chested down a long pass and hit a half volley outside the area, but Chen saved.
Chinese Taipei conjured a rare opportunity after an uncomfortable moment for Matildas keeper Lydia Williams who came rushing out of her area and got nowhere near the ball. Luckily for her, Lee’s effort for the visitors came bouncing back off the post.
With the game reaching its closing stages, Australia missed two further opportunities. First, from an Emily Gielnik cross, Kerr’s instant control and first time side foot went wide. Gielnik also had a side footed effort saved by Chen.
Two minutes into stoppage time sub Katrina Gorry made it 7-0 after scoring her first goal for the Matildas for almost three years when Raso’s cross bounced off of Chen’s foot straight to the Brisbane Roar midfielder who volleyed home.
There was a final opportunity for Australia when a trademark Sam Kerr header landed on the top of the bar.
Whilst this was a comfortable start to the Matildas qualifying campaign, their next game on Monday in Parramatta against World Cup qualifiers Thailand won’t be as straightforward. Their final group game is back at Campbelltown next Thursday against China, which will likely decide who will top the group and earn a home tie to decide who will take one of Asia’s two qualifying spots for Tokyo 2020’s women’s football tournament.
AUSTRALIA: Williams, Catley, McCormick, Polkinghorne, Roestbakken, van Egmond, Kellond Knight, Logarzo, Foord, Simon, Raso. Subs: Carpenter, Luik, Micah (GK), Kennedy, Gielnik (for Foord), Arnold (GK), Gorry (for van Egmond), Kerr (for Simon).
Scorers: Foord 9, 23, 38, Catley 31, Raso 54, Kerr 64, Gorry 90.
CHINESE TAIPEI: S.Y.Chen, Lan, Pan, Jhuo, Peirong, Zhro, Y. Chen, Hsuang, Zhang, C. Ting, H. Lee. Subs: Tsai (GK), Zhan, Yan-San, Shu-o, Hin, W.C. Lee, C.Y. Ting, So, Lin.
Referee: Hyeon-Jeong Oh (South Korea).
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium, Sydney.