Melbourne City quartet, Lydia Williams, Steph Catley, Tameka Yallop (nee Butt) and Elise Kellond-Knight, all started in the Matildas incredible 3-2 fightback against Brazil in Montpellier on Friday morning (AEST).
Leading into the fixture, Head Coach Ante Milicic was forced to make a few tweaks to the starting XI that faced Italy. City captain Steph Catley moved into central defence to cover the injured Claire Polkinghorne, while versatile midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight returned from injury, taking Catley’s position at left-back.
Following a heart breaking 2-1 loss to Italy in their first match day of Group C, Milicic’s side needed a result against an experienced Brazilian side to keep their hopes of progressing through to the knockout phase of the FIFA Women’s World Cup alive.
After a positive opening 20 minutes of play where Australia controlled possession and looked to utilise their pace on the wings, Tameka Yallop looked to earn her nation a penalty but VAR deemed that the attacking midfielder handled the ball prior to going down in the box.
Moments later VAR was again involved, this time awarding Brazil a spot kick after Kellond-Knight tugged her opponent’s shirt in the penalty area. Up stepped Brazilian legend, Marta, who made no mistake sending Williams the wrong way and recording her 16th World Cup goal – becoming the first player to score at five different World Cups.
A brilliant lead up from the South American’s then saw in-form striker Cristiane double their advantage with seven minutes to play in the first-half.
Facing a Brazilian side who hadn’t conceded a group stage goal since the 2003 World Cup and hadn’t lost a group stage match since 1995, Milicic’s side had a mountain to climb.
But with their backs against the wall, the Matildas responded on the stroke of half-time to give them all the momentum heading into the break. City attacker Yallop whipped in a threatening cross which was flicked on by Chloe Logarzo and finished clinically by Caitlin Foord.
Much-like they started the match, the team in green and gold came out of the blocks firing in the second-half as they looked to keep their World Cup dreams alive.
In the 58th minute, Logarzo would level the scores at 2-2. The midfielder picked up the ball before firing a dangerous cross towards captain Sam Kerr, only for the ball to beat Kerr along with her two defenders and the goalkeeper to drift into the back of the net.
With all the momentum, the Australians continued to press forwards and were rewarded for their efforts in the 66th minute following a VAR check. Emily van Egmond crossed the ball towards Kerr - who was in an offside position - which was met by Brazilian defender Monica who got a head to the ball which sailed into the back of her own net – the VAR ruling that Kerr didn’t intervene with play, handing the Aussies a 3-2 lead.
The Matildas performance was both a spirited and history-making comeback, a performance that will need to be backed up by a strong display against Jamaica in their final match of Group C. With Brazil, Italy and the Australians locked on three points each – with Italy yet to play Jamaica in their second match of the group – all indications are that Group C could go down to the final match of the group.
Italy take on Jamaica in the early hours of tomorrow morning (2am AEST), before the Matildas return to action on Wednesday 19 June, kick-off 5:00am (AEST).