Brave Matildas go down swinging in World Cup quarter-final
- From: The Australian
- July 11, 2011
IT was heartbreak for Australia after the Matildas were bundled out of the Women's World Cup finals in Germany last night.
The Matildas gave it their best shot but the highly rated Sweden, the second-oldest team in the tournament, proved too good and too experienced for the youngest squad in the Cup, winning their quarter-final 3-1 in Augsburg.
Sweden, World Cup runner-up in 2003, will now meet Japan in a semi-final it will be expected to win, while Australia will return home today beaten but far from bowed following an impressive tournament in which it qualified for a second successive World Cup quarter-final.
The Matildas, who had only managed one win in nine previous matches with the Swedes, never really looked like troubling their opponents due some terrible defending. All three goals came from bad defensive lapses.
Sweden led 2-0 after just 16 minutes before Ellyse Perry gave Australia some hope with a wonder strike five minutes from half-time. But the Swedes scored again early in the second half and the game was as good as over.
Both sides started nervously, but it was the Swedes who quickly settled down. They probably should have gone ahead as early as the sixth minute when a mistake by Kim Carroll almost allowed Sweden a one-on-one with goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri.
That, sadly, was a sign of things to come for the Matildas, who found themselves 2-0 down just 16 minutes into the match.
Sweden opened the scoring on 10 minutes when Lotta Schelin easily got past Perry before laying the ball into the path of Therese Sjogren, who had ample time to measure her shot from 10m.
Disaster struck again just six minutes later when the Swedes again exposed Australia down its right side. This time Sjogren turned provider, getting past Perry before crossing for the totally unmarked Lisa Dahlkvist, who was never going to miss with her header from close range.
Australia started to become ragged while Sweden looked solid and composed. However, you can never question the fight in the Matildas, who eventually pulled one back five minutes from half-time, after Perry redeemed herself with an extraordinary strike.
The Australians played a short corner to Perry who was on the edge of the box and on an angle. She took one touch and fired a curling, left-footed shot into the top right-hand corner of the net - a goal Lionel Messi would have been proud of. But the stuffing was again knocked out of the Matildas just seven minutes into the second half when Sweden made it 3-1 after yet another horrible defensive blunder.
This time Carroll played a backpass straight in to the path of Schelin, who easily rounded Barbieri before planting the ball into an emptty net.
Sermanni made changes in a bid to inject life in to the side but despite putting Sweden under intense pressure, they came up empty handed.