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Happy homecoming: Matildas take down Brazil in exhilarating preview of World Cup thrills

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23rd October, 2021
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The Matildas enjoyed a raucous and triumphant homecoming with a thrilling 3-1 defeat of Brazil at CommBank Stadium on Saturday.

Veterans Claire Polkinghorne and Emily van Egmond, along with rookie Mary Fowler scored in a pulsating contest, where both teams attacked with verve from the start in front of almost 16,000 fans.

The game showed the immense promise that awaits in two years time when the FIFA World Cup comes down under, with a rowdy crowd roaring on both teams from the start against as the Matildas faced up against one of their biggest rivals.

Games between the two are always dog fights, and the challenges flew in from both sides from the start.

The contest was just eight minutes old when Tameka Yallop rose high in the box and whacked Brazil’s goalkeep Leticia square in the jaw with her knee.

Australia were causing set piece chaos in the Brazil defence, and that’s how the opener arrived.

Steph Cately floated a 37th minute free kick from the left to the far post. Sam Kerr was in space but instead of heading at goal, perfectly cushioned a square ball to Polkinghorne, who tapped in her 12th goal in her 137th international, celebrating wildly.

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Australia made one change to Brazil’s four at halftime and Matildas substitute Emily van Egmond set up the scond for Fowler. The 18 year old’s goal was her fifth in 17 matches.

But within minutes of Australia’s second, Brazil hit back through Adriana. It came after a slip from Alanna Kennedy, who has a history of disappointment against Brazil, having missed the crucial penalty in the 2016 Olympic shootout loss. Kennedy became the 11th Matilda to reach 100 caps.

With Brazil legend Marta entering the game as a second half substitute, Adriana was denied an equaliser by desperate defending.

Instead it was the Matildas who went further ahead with van Egmond driving home after some superb team build up play.

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The Matildas were back on home soil for the first time in 596 days for the first of two games against Brazil. The second will be on Tuesday night.

It was the first time the sides had met since the ‘Miracle of Montpellier’ at the 2019 Women’s World Cup and was a sixth straight victory over their foes, ending a three-game losing streak for Tony Gustavsson’s side. It was the Swedish coach’s first match in front of a home crowd.

“I can get used to this,” Gustavsson said. “Wow, what an atmosphere, what a support. I said I hope we get a taste of the World Cup and we did.

“This is what the [Matildas] are about, the core value of the team, the never say die attitude. High energy, octane attacking game.

“It was a team effort on and off the ball, our pressing game was really good. We defended set plays really good. I know what the experienced players can do, but some of the young players coming in … Kyra Cooney-Cross in the six that’s a lot of responsibility.”

Fowler was superb again.

“Every time I step out it’s a fun and exciting time,” she said. “This is my first game playing at home, so it’s been an amazing night for everyone. We were confident and stayed together for the whole match.”

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