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Matildas much improved in draw with Sweden

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16th June, 2021
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The Matildas have battled out a goalless draw with in-form Sweden to boost their morale heading into the Olympics next month.

The Australian women’s team had suffered three defeats to open the tenure of new coach Tony Gustavsson but they looked far more assured against the Rio 2016 silver medallists in Kalmar on Wednesday morning (AEST).

There were limited clear-cut goalscoring chances at the either end of the pitch with Sam Kerr’s strike against the crossbar the closest to a goal for either side.

The result follows last Friday’s 3-2 loss to Denmark and heavy recent reverses against Germany (5-2) and the Netherlands (5-0).

Australia had only recorded a single win in 11 previous match-ups against the Swedes, a side they have been drawn against at next month’s Tokyo Games.

Regular goalkeeper Lydia Williams continued her absence allowing Teagan Micah to enjoy an assured first international cap and make a strong case for Olympics selection.

Young midfield prospect Kyra Cooney-Cross was given a starting debut while regular starter Caitlin Foord was on the bench.

Also notable was the presence of regular left fullback Steph Catley in the centre of defence as Gustavsson attempts to shore up a defence that had conceded 13 goals in just three matches.

There was experimentation too for Sweden, with the European heavyweights making seven changes to the side that defeated Norway 1-0 last Friday, extending their unbeaten run to 11 matches.

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Kyah Simon fired the first shot in anger for Australia on the half-hour mark but failed to fully test Swedish goalkeeper Jennifer Falk.

At the other end, Johanna Kaneryd could easily have put the hosts in front just before the break but sprayed her shot just wide after neatly creating space.

Kerr enjoyed little time on the ball but came closest to breaking the deadlock when her fierce shot rattled the crossbar midway through the second half.

The Australian captain was withdrawn with a quarter of an hour remaining, and Gustavsson again displayed his flexibility by pushing fullback Ellie Carpenter into the No.9 role.

Aside from Sweden, Australia will also face world the top ranked United States and New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics, with their opener against their trans-Tasman foes on July 21.

© AAP

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