Australia Keep Their Heads As Kerr Scores With Hers

Philippines 0-4 Australia

By Kieran Yap (24/1/22)

Above: The Matildas in the huddle. After a first half when they couldn’t take their chances, it got better in the second period. Photo: Football Australia.

The Matildas guaranteed progression into the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup with a 4-0 win over a stubborn Philippines side in Mumbai.

Tony Gustavsson made several changes to his starting lineup following the 18-0 win over Indonesia on Friday night. Kyah Simon and Tameka Yallop came in for Hayley Raso and Clare Wheeler while Teagan Micah started in place of Mackenzie Arnold in goal.

Emily van Egmond dropped into defensive midfield after scoring four times as an attacker in the opening game. The plan seemed to be to utilize her passing range to create chances from deep. However, against a packed Philippines defence, this method was not so effective for the first 45 minutes.

The best early chances came through the left boot of Steph Catley. The fullback was virtually playing as a winger as she sent in an early ball from the left that could easily have resulted in a goal.

Catley’s corners from the right also created problems for the Philippines defence. She exchanged short passes to Kyah Simon to improve the angle but the chances that fell to Alanna Kennedy and Sam Kerr could not beat the goalkeeper.

The Philippines were defending deep, close, and in numbers. On the rare occasions that Kerr received the ball to her feet, she was quickly blocked or ushered wide. Caitlin Foord looked to be the most likely striker to break through individually. The Philippines had no answer for her strength and close control, although her finishing was inaccurate.

Australia went into halftime with the majority of possession but level on the scoreboard. They would have to wait until after the break to take the lead.

The opening goal came from a predictable source. You can only deny Sam Kerr for so long before nature takes its course. It was another header from another corner but this time it hit the target and Australia was up 1-0 after 50 minutes.

Above: Sam Kerr (centre) celebrates her goal with Alanna Kennedy and Emily van Egmond. Photo: Football Australia.

Kyah Simon was involved in the second four minutes later after a long ball towards Kerr caused chaos in the Philippines defence. Simon went for the ball with it finally going in off of Dominique Randle for an own goal. It put Australia firmly in control of the match and forced the opposition to change tactics.

When van Egmond scored the third goal, the game was effectively over as a contest. Both coaches made substitutions as the Philippines chased the game and had to abandon their counter-attacking style in favour of four upfront.

Australia unleashed the potential of the A-League Women onto the international stage.

Cortnee Vine, Remy Siemsen, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Holly McNamara and Courtney Nevin all entered the match. Vine had an almost instant impact when she immediately picked up the ball and drove down the wing in familiar fashion. The Sydney FC star whipped in numerous dangerous crosses but could not add to the score.

Cooney-Cross used her pace to drive with the ball from deep. She exploited the space that The Philippines had conceded and looked as good as she has since the Brazil friendlies.

Nevin is starting to look like a player somehow better at international level than she is with her club. She rarely plays a poor game in the A-League Women, but for The Matildas, she goes up another level. The Melbourne Victory defender is a capable understudy to Steph Catley and it would not be a surprise to see her start in the next match.

Holly McNamara is not lacking in confidence and why would she? The Melbourne City striker looks to score or create every time she touches the ball. Several shots on goal did not result in her first international goal but it is surely a matter of time.

Siemsen was quieter but as the only player other than Kerr who plays centre-forward every week she is important structurally. She provides a target and focal point and played her role well.

Above: Alanna Kennedy (left) battles with the Philippines’ Sarina Bolden. Photo: Football Australia.

McNamara’s corner helped create Australia’s fourth. The half-cleared ball eventually fell to Mary Fowler at the edge of the 18-yard box. She took a touch and rifled home her shot to put an exclamation point on the win.

It was Fowler’s second goal of the tournament and a fitting end to another game where she always looked likely to make a difference.

It was a harder match than the opening win over Indonesia. But that was to be expected. The Philippines squad includes many recruits from the USA college system. They were well drilled and physically more capable than the Indonesians were.

However, as committed as their defending was, they did not create many chances in attack. A first-half opening came about after a failed Australian off-side trap but the shot never looked like going in.

Their next goalscoring opportunity did not come until they were 3-0 down. A free-kick from the left was easily cleared by Clare Polkinghorne.

This was a solid tournament win by Australia and a game they never looked like losing. They continued peppering the Philippines goal throughout and eventually, the chances started going in.

Their second win at the Asian Cup may not have been as statistically impressive as the first but it was a solid win against potentially tricky opposition. The goal difference was increased, the points were secured and the new faces were given a chance to impress.

This was a momentarily worrying game that ended as a job well done for Australia.

Teams: PHILIPPINES (4-4-2): Fontanilla, Madarang, Long, Randle, Harrison, Friles, Miclat, Bungay, S.Castaneda, McDaniel, Bolden. Subs used: Cesar, Shelton, Rodriguez, A.Castaneda, Guillou.

AUSTRALIA (4-1-4-1): Micah, Catley, Polkinghorne, Kennedy, Carpenter, van Egmond, Foord, Yallop, Fowler, Simon, Kerr. Subs used: Nevin, Vine, Cooney-Cross, McNamara, Siemsen.

Scorers: Kerr 51′, Randle (OG) 53′, van Egmond 67′, Fowler 87′.

Referee: Wang Chieh (Chinese Taipei).

Attendance: Behind Closed Doors due to COVID.

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