Matildas smash their way to the Paris Olympics with spectacular victory

Feb 29, 2024
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson praised his team's efforts, claiming, "You could sense the focus in the group when the game started today." Source: James Ross/AAP PHOTOS.

In a stunning display of dominance, the Matildas secured their ticket to the Paris Olympic Games with an impressive 10-0 victory over Uzbekistan.

Temperatures hit 36C in Melbourne earlier on Wednesday, February 28 but it didn’t deter a crowd of 54,120, which included Olympic greats Cathy Freeman and Anna Meares.

The Matildas quickly seized the lead within 34 seconds when Kaitlyn Torpey forced an own goal from Dilrabo Asadova, setting the tone for a dominant first half. Mary Fowler, celebrating her 50th game, showcased her mesmerising skills in an eight-goal spree.

Michelle Heyman, who also found the net, earned her first international start since March 2018, replacing Emily van Egmond. Heyman’s agile movements proved too much for Uzbekistan to handle, as she secured a hat-trick within the initial 16 minutes.

Torpey, in her second game at 23, played a pivotal role in three goals and netted her first international goal, making a compelling case for a spot in the 18-player Olympics squad. Fowler’s precise pass in the third minute saw Torpey skillfully set up Heyman’s goal with her right leg.

In the eighth minute, a lofted ball from Steph Catley on the left found Heyman, who headed home for the third goal. Fowler orchestrated Heyman’s hat-trick with a well-placed ball, sealing the deal.

Torpey added the fifth in the 22nd minute from a corner, displaying accuracy with a close-range strike into the net. Goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold made a strong save in the 28th minute to deny Uzbekistan’s captain Lyudmila Karachik.

In the 38th minute, Kyra Cooney-Cross’s free-kick caused chaos, and Foord capitalised, netting Australia’s seventh. Despite Uzbekistan clearing a corner off the line just before halftime, Torpey’s pass allowed Heyman to head home her fourth.

Changes at halftime saw Heyman, Foord, Gorry, and Ellie Carpenter replaced, with Raso, Sayer, Tameka Yallop, and van Egmond coming on. Charli Grant replaced Catley in the 65th minute.

Raso added another goal in the 68th minute, and Sayer’s first international goal in injury time marked a triumphant conclusion to the match.

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson praised his team’s efforts, claiming, “You could sense the focus in the group when the game started today.”

“They were on a mission,” he continued.

“Very good training session yesterday and then I know for a fact that these players feed off of the energy in the stands as well and that was massive tonight.

“You can see we’ve come out flying from minute one.”

-with AAP.

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