Matildas beat China in women's international football friendly – as it happened

Mike Hytner on 22 November 2017

Final thoughts

Sam Kerr will take the headlines, deservedly so, but that was a pretty complete team performance from Alen Stajcic’s side. A few gaps at the back aside, they gave no indication that China could get into the game, despite the visitors’ clear talent in their ranks. Kerr was immense, and her second goal is one to enjoy over and over on replay, but she was not the only standout. Tameka Butt was great, De Vanna was full of running, as always, and Van Egmond dictated play in the middle. There was even time for debutant Eliza Campbell to pull out the save of the night on her cameo appearance in between the sticks.

So we head to Geelong on Sunday for the second match of this mini-series with the Matildas confidence showing no sign of waning. This is looking good for the Asian Cup. Kate O’Halloran will be here to take you through game two, but from me, thanks for joining us and bye for now.

  • This post was amended on 24 November to reflect the writer’s intention to highlight gaps in the Australian team’s defence. The original wording had unintentionally caused offence and for that Guardian Australia is deeply sorry.

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Sam Kerr describes her stunning second goal: “One of those ones that once you hit you just know. I just knew I had to hit it. It sat up nicely for me.”

Full-time: Australia 3-0 China

90+4 min: And there it is! All over at AAMI Park and it’s a convincing win for the home side, who were yet again inspired by the goal machine that is Sam Kerr. A few final thoughts to follow.

90+3 min: That’s the first save an Australian keeper has had to make tonight. Sums it up neatly, really.

90+2 min: It’s time for Amy Harrison to come on for a fleeting appearance, moments before Campbell pulls a save right out of the top drawer to deny China a consolation goal!

90 mins: We’ll have four minutes of added time at the end of this one. It’s been a cracker.

88 min: Ooh, Heyman tries to get her head to deep cross, but she can’t quite extend her neck far enough and the ball runs bounces past her and out for a goal kick.

86 min: Heyman looks to play a nice little reverse pass through, but it’s telegraphed by a Chinese defender and the move breaks down.

84 min: Looks like Michelle Heyman is coming on! That’s great news for a player who has been through a lot lately. Larissa Crummer too. De Vanna and Kerr make way. No hat-trick for Kerr, then.

83 min: Dermot’s back in touch, this time with a non-defamatory missive. “Sam Kerr fact; she has 13800 Twitter followers.” Thanks Dermot, keep ‘em coming.

82 min: China make another change as Eliza Campbell makes her debut, coming on for Arnold, who hasn’t had a great deal to do in between the sticks tonight, to be honest.

80 min: Ooh, Da Vanna nearly gets her name on the scoresheet after Kerr turns provider with a neat little ball back inside to find her skipper’s run. No end product though.

78 min: Simon sees a shot take a hefty deflection but the ball loops out of play for a corner, rather than the back of the net, a la Tameka Butt.

77 min: Sam Kerr is “the best player in football at the moment” is the considered judgement on the telly, and who can argue with that after another standout performance tonight?

75 min: Here are another couple of changes for China, as Zue Liao and Han Peng come on. Off goes Wang Shanshan and someone else, whose identity I will confirm later.

73 min: Kerr again meets a Van Egmond cross into the box with a snap of her neck muscles, but it’s easy for Zhao Lina to claim this time.

71 min: There’s a Matildas and Sam Kerr love-in happening on Twitter at the moment, and rightly so. This is a fine team, headlined by a very fine striker.

69 min: De Vanna looks to get in on the action, firing off a low shot from the edge of the box which is turned around the post by Zhao Lina!

68 min: Expect a new wave of #samkerrfacts in the morning. And with 20 minutes left, a hat-trick really isn’t out of the question.

67 min: Butt off, Kyah Simon on as Australia make their first change of the night. But honestly, I’m still thinking about Kerr’s second.

65 min: My goodness me. That was a shout-out-loud-in-an-empty-office moment. An absolute stunner from Kerr, who simply cannot stop scoring at the moment.

GOAL! Australia 3-0 China (Kerr)

64 min: Biff! What a screamer! Sam Kerr does it again! She unleashes a supreme strike right into the top corner to put the Matildas three up! What. A. Goal. What. A. Player.

63 min: It’s a long road back into this game for China now. They’ve been run into the ground by this Australian side, whose attacking verve has been too much to this point.

60 min: China make a change - off goes Tang Jiali and on comes Song Duan.

59 min: Kennedy gets it up over the Chinese wall but it’s beaten away by Zhao Lina!

58 min: Here’s a free-kick for Australia as Foord is knocked off the ball. It’s a dangerous position, 20 yards out, towards the left-hand side of the box. Kennedy is over it and will have a crack at smashing it in.

56 min: Dear me, the commentator on the telly is persisting in calling Wang Shuang the “Lady Messi”. Please make it stop.

54 min: Gorry tries to make it three with a long-range effort that bounces just before it reaches Zhao Lina, who does well to get down and hold onto the ball.

GOAL! Australia 2-0 China (Butt)

53 min: And another! It’s Tameka Butt who gets it as her shot loops up over the keeper and into the top corner! There’s a hint of good fortune to it, but like Kerr’s opener, they all count!

52 min: Logarzo picks up the ball out on the left hand side before curling in a teasing cross. No dice this time, but the Matildas have started the second half as they did the first – on the front foot.

50 min: It’s all happening early this second half. Here’s another Matildas corner which causes utter chaos in the China box! There are three Matildas on the deck and still the ball hasn’t been cleared! It eventually is, but that was some pretty poor defensive work from the visitors there.

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49 min: Well, after that little bit of excitement, there’s more to come! This time it’s Foord who plays in Kerr, but her attempt with the outside of her boot goes wide! That could easily have been number two!

Second half underway

46 min: Here we go again, and the hosts go mighty close almost immediately as De Vanna’s cross nearly finds first Gorry and then Kennedy! Both are inches away from making decisive contact.

Disaster strikes: there are no clean mugs at Guardian Towers, Sydney branch. A half-time cuppa remains but a flight of fancy. Also, Steph Catley has not re-emerged for the second half. Chloe Logarzo is the woman on to replace her.

Half-time: Australia 1-0 China

45+2 min: And there goes the half-time whistle. Australia head in at the break a goal to the good, their lead well-deserved. Sam Kerr, inevitably, was the goalscorer and they look well set to record another victory. There are signs, though, that China have what it takes to hit back. We’ll see if they can in the second half, don’t go anywhere.

45 min: Butt takes a Ren Guixin shoulder charge right in the back, and she’s forced off the pitch to recover as the first half winds down.

44 min: And that’s fantastic hold up play by Tang Jiali. The Chinese will still fancy their chances with the score at 1-0 and their front players clicking.

43 min: Tell you what, most of the play has been up at the other end tonight, but Wang Shuang and Wang Shanshan are lovely players, combining well on occasion this first half, but just lacking a final touch so far.

41 min: A ball over the top puts the frighteners on the Australian back line now, but Raso is alert as the offside flag stays down and she gets back to foil the Chinese attack.

39 min: Oh, that’s lovely passing interchange from the Matildas, carving open the Chinese defence, but De Vanna can’t finish it off as she slides in at the end of it all!

38 min: Ooof! Van Egmond unleashes a howitzer from fully 30 yards. It’s well struck and still rising when it reaches goal, but the tall frame of Zhao Lina is well-positioned to pluck it out of the air.

37 min: Catley runs it off on the sidelines before re-entering play. Chloe Logarzo is left disappointed, and returns to the bench.

35 min: Ouch. Catley stays down after her ankle is stood on, entirely accidentally, by Tang Jiali. That’s got to hurt and she looks in quite some pain. Off she hobbles, and we’ll see if she returns.

Lisa De Vanna checks on Steph Catley
Lisa De Vanna checks on Steph Catley after she injured her ankle. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

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32 min: Here come China again, and all that is missing is a final ball as Australia’s back line runs the risk of being opening up. A few warning signs there for Alen Stajcic’s side.

31 min: Kerr centres for Foord now, who rises imperiously but can’t get much power on her header, at least not enough to trouble the keeper Zhao Lina.

30 min: Half an hour gone and the story so far has been all about Australia, as expected. A few momentary lapses of concentration at the back may give the hosts slight cause for concern, though, and they’ll need to keep it tight with just a goal buffer.

29 min: Even when there’s a hint of a chance at the other end, it’s snuffed out quickly, as Raso does here to close down Wang Shuang.

28 min: Australia are utterly dominant here. It’s one-way traffic and if China aren’t careful now before half-time, this one could blow out.

26 min: Another corner now to the Matildas, which is taken by Van Egmond. Again Kerr is lurking with intent but there’s a touch too much on it this time and it’ll be a goal kick.

24 min: That’s Kerr’s eighth goal in her last five games. She really is incredible. There’s not much more to be said.

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GOAL! Australia 1-0 China (Kerr)

23 min: There it is! Guess who? Really there are no surprises as Kerr heads home from a corner! It’s not the best goal she’ll ever score – it actually comes off the back of her head – but they all count, as they say! Australia lead!

Sam Kerr heads home
Sam Kerr heads home the opener at AAMI Park. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

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19 min: Kerr now receives some rather agricultural treatment, and it’ll be another Australian free-kick. Polkinghorne is the target but as Van Egmond’s ball finds her forehead, the big defender can’t get the direction she would have wanted and the ball bounces out for a goal kick.

18 min: The Matildas have enjoyed 68% of possession so far with 62% of the action being played out in the Chinese defensive third. That explicitly tells the story of this first half so far.

17 min: De Vanna again finds some space on the right hand side. But again the delivery isn’t too great, and the Chinese defence is able to clear their lines without too much fuss.

16 min: Foord whips in a cross towards Kerr, who leaps, salmon-like, but the Chinese keeper gets there just before her.

15 min: The initial fast pace is beginning to slow down. No, not the game. My typing on this so-called “minute-by-minute”.

13 min: Ooh, that’s a dodgy offside call against Wang Shuang, the woman they call the “Female Messi”, because, sheesh, mustn’t we always compare brilliant women to their male counterparts and never praise them on their own merit because, you know, they’re brilliant?

11 min: I really don’t want to go on about the pitch, but it really does look good tonight. It’s suiting Australia’s passing play so far too. Here goes Foord, off down the left flank, but her second touch is heavy and she overruns it.

10 min: Van Egmond is over it and she dinks it into the box towards Kennedy, but it’s headed clear by Wang Shanshan.

9 min: De Vanna is clattered by Liu Shanshan, who piles into the back of the Matildas captain. Free-kick to Australia, in a dangerous position...

7 min: Here we go, Kerr gets round the back of the Chinese defence courtesy of a lovely ball through by De Vanna. Her cross doesn’t reach its intended target – Butt – though and the ball runs all the way through the box.

6 min: The Matildas continue to enjoy the better of the opening stages in Melbourne.

Meanwhile, an email! Dermot Nestor has been in touch, lying through his teeth to say he’s enjoying the updates. Sadly, his ensuing comments aren’t re-publishable. Dermot, think of the legal bills please.

5 min: Here goes De Vanna, but she’s floored soon enough. No free-kick though and China are able to come away with the ball.

4 min: Meanwhile, it’s been a pretty positive start to the game for the Matildas – they’ve enjoyed most of the possession so far and China have barely been out of their own half.

3 min: Good to see Raso’s got the ribbon in her hair once again. I don’t think I’ll be able to see it ever again without thinking of Mile Jedinak though, as per David Squires’ cartoon:

2 min: The ball goes near Sam Kerr and that’s enough for a ripple of excitement to course through the crowd. She doesn’t actually touch it, but still.

Peeeep!

1 min: OK, here we go then, under way, nine minutes late, as is the Australian sporting tradition! Underway at AAMI Park! Australia in gold shirts and shorts with green socks, China are in their usual red kit, matched with yellow socks.

To the anthems, China first. Not bad, pretty rousing towards the end, good use of the cymbals. And Advance Australia Fair. We all know how that one goes. Well done all round.

Here come the teams. De Vanna is wearing the Matildas armband tonight and she takes it upon herself to give each of her team-mates a motivating hug down in the tunnel before they take to the pitch. Honestly, if Lisa De Vanna can’t pump you up, you’re unpumpable, flat as a pancake.

The last time these two sides met was in the Algarve Cup back in March when the Matildas came back from a goal down to win 2-1, thanks to strikes from Emily Gielnik and Ellie Carpenter. Australia went on to finish fourth at the tournament, and lay the foundations for their sensational 2017.

Kick-off is fast approaching, or at least at a pace that conforms to the conventional laws of time. About eight minutes to the scheduled start time of 7:30pm local.

Everybody loves a weather update. So here’s a weather update: it’s “perfect football conditions” in Melbourne as the sun goes down on AAMI Park and there’s a beautiful playing surface awaiting the two teams, the kind that looks like a beautiful carpet, albeit a green one that you’d be mad to want in your living room.

AAMI Park in Melbourne
AAMI Park in Melbourne. Photograph: Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

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Teams

So, the Matildas are fielding a super strong side tonight, with their front three the envy of the world – Foord, Kerr and De Vanna. The midfield isn’t too bad either - Butt, Van Egmond and Gorry. And stone the crows, their back line is mighty impressive too! Raso is in at right-back, with Polkinghorne, Kennedy and Catley rounding off the back four. Mackenzie Arnold is in between the sticks. And look at the strength in depth – that bench is astounding.

China line up thus: Zhao Lina; Wu Haiyan, Li Danyang, Ma Jun, Liu Shanshan; Ren Guixin, Zhang Rui; Tang Jiali, Wang Shuang, Xu Yanlu; Wang Shanshan.

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Well, it’s been another uneventful 24 hours in Australian football, so thank goodness the Matildas are here to liven up what has otherwise been a pretty dull day.

Joking aside, Ange Postecoglou’s departure from the Socceroos coaching position could ultimately have a knock-on effect on the women’s team, with Alen Stajcic’s name already being mentioned alongside the more obvious candidates to succeed Postecoglou at the helm of the men’s team. Quelle horreur that would be for the Matildas, as Stajcic has taken a group of players – an admittedly hugely talented group – and turned them into world beaters.

What a year it has been for them, having won the Tournament of Nations in the States before backing it up with back-to-back wins over Brazil back on home soil. Tonight, and the second game in Geelong at the weekend, will serve as key preparations for the Asian Cup, against Asian opposition and in China, a decent side to boot.

Team news to follow, but for now, there’s just time to let you know to get in touch with any thoughts on the game, the Matildas or women’s football in general. It’s mike.hytner@theguardian.com or @mike_hytner on Twitter.

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Mike will be here shortly. In the meantime, have a read of Jacob Steinberg’s interview with Vivianne Miedema on the state of women’s football internationally.

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