They’ve done it again! The Matildas have had a whirlwind year and it doesn’t look like they’ll be slowing down any time soon. Following a 2 – 0 victory over the Iran and an 8 – 0 victory over the Philippines, the Matildas have won a third Olympics qualifier round against Chinese Taipei (Taiwan), bringing them even closer to competing in the Paris 2024 games.
Their third straight win means that they have finished on top of Group A with a perfect nine points from nine and a goal difference of plus-13. Their third victory was hard won however, with the Chinese Taipei team fighting tooth and nail whenever the Australians approached their goal.
In front of 19,084 fans last night at HBF Park in Perth, the Matildas took to the pitch with spirits high after their last two victories. They wouldn’t have it nearly as easy as Wednesday however, with the first half of the game being a tense stalemate between the the aggressive Australian attack and the stalwart Taiwanese defence.
The Matildas made a flurry of shots at the goal but all either missed or were deflected. One of Mary Fowler’s shots went under the crossbar while the other flew right over it. Kyra Cooney-Cross’ shot went over as well.
Katrina Gorry’s shot tried to batter right past goalkeeper Cheng Ssu-yu but to no avail. Cheng Ssu-yu would continue to make a series of strong saves, further frustrating the Matildas attack. Sam Kerr had the chance to score on the stroke of half-time but her shot flew over the crossbar too.
It took until the 62nd minute for Australia to open the scoring, but it was well worth the wait. Fowler’s thunderous shot went arced straight through the air and into the goal, ending the deadlock in Australia’s favour.
“I think in those moments, you’re not really thinking too much. You’re just doing them off instinct and trying them out. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. I had a few chances in the first half and that one in the second half went in,” said Fowler afterwards about the goal.
Only 6 minutes later, Sam Kerr scored the second goal of the match from point-blank range, which was also the 900th goal overall for the Matildas! Substitute Tameka Yallop brought the score to 3 – 0 at the 76th minute, sealing the deal for Australia and sending them quite decisively to the next round of the Olympic qualifiers.
The victory means that Australia will next face the world 50th ranked Uzbekistan in a two-legged play-off in February. Uzbekistan will host the first game on February 24, and a yet-to-be-determined location in Australia will be hosting the second on February 28.