Mon, Feb 26, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Australians show class against Taiwan

COMING UP SHORTThe Australian women's Olympic soccer team made good use of the aerial threat of towering center forward Kathryn Gill, who scored five times

By Dave Carroll  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taiwan's Lai Li-chin, left, falls as she is pursued by Australian players in their third and final first-round Olympic Games qualifier at the Zhongshan Soccer Stadium in Taipei yesterday. Australia won 8-1.

PHOTO: WANG YI-SUNG, TAIPEI TIMES

The fifth and sixth matches in the AFC Women's Olympic Soccer preliminary competition were played in Taipei yesterday, with both Taiwan and Australia, who were paired in the second match, already qualified for the next round with unbeaten records.

The game that most of the crowd at the Zhongshan Stadium had come to see followed a clash between Myanmar and Uzbekistan. The Australians kicked-off and immediately set up in an attacking 4-3-3 formation, with wingers Heather Garriock and Sarah Walsh either side of their tall center forward Kathryn Gill. The Aussies had obviously done their homework on the opposition and immediately set to work getting the ball to the flanks as quickly as possible, causing all sorts of problems for the home side's defense.

Early chances for Caitlin Munoz and Collette McCallum, set up by the tireless and tricky Walsh, were spurned, but Taiwan couldn't hold out for long. In the 14th minute Garriock again got away on the left wing and crossed perfectly for Gill to score with a stooping header. Gill continued to cause problems for the Taiwanese center backs, who could not cope with her aerial power.

In the 26th minute another cross from the right by the flying Walsh was volleyed in at the back post by Gill. Walsh turned from provider into a scorer three minutes later when she tapped in Joanne Burgess' cross to make it 0-3.

Taiwan gave the crowd hope in the 35th minute following a break down the left, when Tsai Pei-wen (蔡佩紋) found herself free with the ball on the right of the penalty area and coolly converted past the helpless Melissa Barbieri in the Aussie goal.

The hope was short-lived as the Aussies again picked up the tempo of their game, and in the 44th minute a cross from McCallum was headed home from the penalty spot by the irrepressible Gill, completing her hat-trick.

Taiwan kicked-off the second half looking to bounce back, but it took only four minutes for the Aussies to increase their lead when Gill headed home yet another right wing cross. Taiwan gallantly battled back, but were still being caused no end of problems by the Aussie wingers. An injury to Lo Huei-tzu (羅慧慈) meant that she had to be replaced by Wu Shin-jung (吳欣容), who helped shore up the defense for a while, and even tried a speculative effort from a free-kick from almost 40m out.

Taiwan held out until the 72nd minute, when Huang failed to punch clear a corner and the ball fell to Peters who got it past two defenders on the line for Australia's sixth goal.

Substitute Tseng Shu-o (曾淑娥) had a chance in the 75th minute, but her shot was saved by Barbieri, and Australia made it seven in the 83rd minute when substitute Danielle Small scored, again with an unchallenged header from a corner.

Gill wrapped things up with her fifth goal in the 89th minute of the game.

In the end, the Australian tactics and the aerial power of Gill were too much for a spirited Taiwan team to cope with. They will need to improve in the next round in order to make the trip to Beijing next year.

The opening match between Uzbekistan and Myanmar ended in a 1-1 draw, with Uzbekistan's women replying to Myanmar's early goal in the opening minutes of the second half.

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