For Australia, the come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Brazil in Montpellier did not just keep their World Cup hopes alive — it provided vindication.
“Real Aussie heart being shown,” goalkeeper Lydia Williams said. “It was kind of do or die for us.”
Australia were mugged by Italy in their first game, taking a first-half lead through star forward Sam Kerr only to lose to two second-half goals by Barbara Bonansea, the second in the 96th minute.
On Thursday they fell behind to two first-half goals. This time Australia came back.
“Tonight is one of the finest Australian performances I have seen,” Australia coach Ante Milicic said.
Brazil took the lead after Elise Kellond-Knight dragged down Leticia Santos in the 27th minute. Marta converted the penalty to increase her record World Cup goal total to 16.
Then Cristiane bullied Steph Catley before heading her fourth of this year’s finals and her 11th in all.
Australia used the same methodical tactics that failed to turn possession into goals against Italy. This time they paid off in the final seconds of the first half when Caitlin Foord volleyed in Chloe Logarzo’s flicked header.
“Early in the game, I feel the game was played in their half, that gives you a little bit of belief when you cop two goals,” Foord said.
Australia needed some help, and they got it.
Even though striker Sam Ellis failed to reach Logarzo’s long, low cross, she distracted Brazilian goalkeeper Barbara and the ball bounced into the net.
Shortly afterward, Brazil defender Monica’s attempted headed clearance flew into her own goal.
“At times we were probably a little too direct, but I thought the variation was good and we got the rewards,” Milicic said.
Logarzo was voted player of the match. She said the team was inspired by their coach at halftime.
“Ante really goes in there and is able to lift us,” she said. “The Australian mentality is to come out swinging when our back is against the wall. We like a good fight.”
“It’s an unbelievable feeling for me to score any goal,” Logarzo added. “It wasn’t a shot, but I’ll take it. It was definitely a cross for Sam, but a goal’s a goal.”
Brazil started with seven players over 30 and one, Formiga, over 40.
Milicic said that they might have been a good team for the way Australia play.
“We’ve worked very hard in our conditioning,” he said. “The more the ball is in play the better for us. We keep shifting the opponents, shifting the ball. Today as the game went on we looked very strong, but a couple of their players had cramp.”
Kellond-Knight said that conceding “two goals is again a concern,” and was torn over the penalty she gave away.
“Got to put everything on the line in a situation like that,” she said. “I’d like to review it again. I don’t think it was a penalty. In saying that, you can’t hold [a] shirt in the box. Just got to cop it.”
Catley said that she could have done better on the other goal.
“I should have attacked the ball,” she said. “Obviously it sucks when a goal goes in like that, but the feeling was that we were still on top.”
The second half, Catley said, was “just a fight. We were winning the tackles we needed to be winning. We kept playing. We weren’t flustered. We kept moving them around. It was a really mature performance.”
Victory over Jamaica in the final group game on Tuesday would probably see Australia into the knockout phase. Jamaica, who were due to play Italy yesterday, have less recovery time.
“That winning feeling is nice,” Foord said. “We want to have that again.”
MIAMI BAR GAFFE
A Miami bar that offered customers “free shots” for every goal scored by the US at the FIFA Women’s World Cup has scaled back its offer in the wake of the team’s record-breaking 13-0 thrashing of Thailand earlier this week.
The American Social Bar & Kitchen used its social media page for the promotion, clearly not expecting the US to rack up the tournament’s biggest-ever win in their opening game on Tuesday.
The rampant US team, a traditional powerhouse of women’s soccer, face unfancied Chile tomorrow, but thirsty Florida customers should not be expecting another night of multiple free shots and will have to settle for a single drink.
“Our ‘free shots’ promotion is not meant to be taken literally, especially when records are shattered,” a furiously back-pedaling Paul Greenberg, one of the managing partners at American Social, said in an e-mail to Reuters. “No one expected this, so instead of passing around shots, we have welcomed our patrons back for a round on us during the match against Chile on Sunday.”
The bar is a favorite meeting place for the local US soccer supporters group, the American Outlaws.
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