Australia 6-0 Thailand
By Ben Gilby
The Matildas shot to the top of their Olympic Qualifying Group thanks to another comprehensive victory, this time against Thailand.
The win, their second in four days, sees Australia now need only a point in their final match against China to ensure they finish top and face the easier task on paper in the final qualifying round by taking on Vietnam over two legs. Finish second, and they would face South Korea.
Just as they did on Friday night against Chinese Taipei, the Matildas started in total control – but unlike that match, the Thais kept their shape and defended well.
Coach Ante Milicic made six changes to his starting line-up from the previous game. One of those was the return of Ellie Carpenter on the right of defence who was hugely influential all night long.
Australia’s dominance was total. Katrina Gorry had a long range effort go wide from Emily van Egmond’s corner. The latter built on her superb showing against Chinese Taipei with another excellent performance, and the midfielder was next to chance her arm when she hit a speculative half volley over her own shoulder from Carpenter’s corner, but Sorripao in the Thailand goal held it well.
Three minutes later, van Egmond was in action again and Sorripao had to come to her country’s aid by stopping the curling shot from the left of the box.
Caitlin Foord, a hat-trick hero from the opening qualifying game went on another stunning long mazy run which was finally ended by Sorripao.
With over half an hour of the first half gone, Thailand were still maintaining their defensive effort brilliantly in the face of relentless pressure. Australia were doing very well not to become frustrated. They believed the breakthrough would come eventually and kept battling away.
After Emily Gielnik cut in from the left and hit a shot wide, it looked like it would be goalless at the break. Yet, as the half approached its dénouement, finally the dam burst.
Phornphirun Philawan’s attempted clearance fell to Ellie Carpenter and the talented 19 year-old sent in an inch perfect ball for Emily van Egmond to angle a foot at the ball to knock it into the net.
A few minutes into stoppage time, Foord missed a great opportunity when her effort cannoned back off the post after she had rounded Sorripao. Right on the half time whistle, the Matildas doubled their lead and, again it was Carpenter and van Egmond involved.
The defender sidefooted a highly accurate ball into the box which was played back to van Egmond who was adjacent to the penalty spot and hit it home. Thailand’s super rear guard efforts had all come to nought.
Australia continued to rack up the chances at the start of the second half. Defender Jenna McCormick had two great opportunities within four minutes of each other. First, her header was well held before she sent an acrobatic overhead kick wide following a corner.
Ellie Carpenter came to the fore once more with a speculative cross come shot which was heading towards the top left hand corner before Sorripao saved well.
On the hour mark, Sam Kerr was introduced in place of Katrina Gorry with Hayley Raso replacing Emily Gielnik. The changes had their intended impact as Australia went on the rampage.
Kerr played in Karly Roestbakken who fired in a ball and W League top scorer Kyah Simon stuck out a leg and in it went.
This was the start of a golden period for the Matildas as four goals were scored in just six minutes.
Four minutes later, van Egmond completed her hat-trick. Simon combined with Kerr. The Chelsea hot shot played a sidefooted pass in for the Melbourne City star to knock in.
It was 5-0 less than a minute later with Kerr involved again. This time, the East Fremantle born player put in a nice ball to Hayley Raso who scooped a lovely goal into the net.
A further minute past before Australia added a sixth. Van Egmond sent in a free kick from the right of the box which was met by a superb thumping header from Kyah Simon.
Despite there being eighteen minutes plus stoppage time left on the clock, there were no further goals.
Thailand put in a great effort, but a heroic first half defensive effort eventually buckled in the face of the Matildas’ skill. The hosts had 75% of the possession, mustered 38 shots on target to Thailand’s one and made 635 passes compared to the opposition’s 223.
Australia top the group on goal difference from China at present. The two sides meet in the last game of this stage of the qualifiers on Friday in Parramatta. It’s a hugely important game as, despite the fact that both sides are assured of a place in the final qualifiers against South Korea and Vietnam, finishing top comes with the benefit of avoiding the Koreans.
AUSTRALIA: Arnold, Roestbakken, McCormick, Kennedy, Carpenter, van Egmond, Luik, Gorry, Foord, Simon, Gielnik. Subs: Williams (GK), Polkinghorne, Logarzo, Catley, Kellond-Knight, Micah (GK), Yallop (for Simon), Raso (for Gielnik), Kerr (for Gorry).
Scorers: van Egmond 44, 45, Simon 67, 73, Raso 71.
THAILAND: Sorripao, Philawan, Chinwong, Srangthaisong, Saengkhun, Phetwiset, Pram-Nak, Khueunpet, Intamee, Pangdal, Chelthabal. Subs: Boonsing, Makris, Prancha, Mongkoldee, Sungrigoen, Pengngam, Waenngoen, Somnank, Sulthibul.
Referee: Yoshimi Yamashita (Japan)
Venue: Campbelltown Stadium, Sydney.
Olympic Games Asian Qualifying Group B Table:
Top two qualify for final qualifying stage. Team finishing first in Group A will play Vietnam over two legs and team finishing second in Group B will play South Korea over two legs. The winners of each tie will qualify for the 2020 Olympic Women’s Football competition.