Melbourne City quartet, Lydia Williams, Steph Catley, Tameka Yallop (nee Butt) and Elise Kellond-Knight, all featured in the Matildas gut-wrenching loss to Italy in their FIFA Women’s World Cup opener in Valenciennes on Sunday night (AEST).
Following a nervous start to the game, Head Coach Ante Milicic’s side took an early 1-0 lead when prolific goal scorer and captain Sam Kerr earned her side a penalty, before tapping in the rebound after her initial shot was saved to secure her first World Cup goal.
The 21st minute strike gave the Aussies a great run of momentum for the rest of the first-half, although missed opportunities in front of goal would come back to haunt them. The second-half was a completely different game, with the Italians looking determined to exploit the Matildas high line and interrupt the run of play with repeated stoppages.
In the 56th minute, Italy pounced on a defensive error to make it 1-1. Central defender Claire Polkinghorne’s error at the back, saw Barbara Bonansea pounce on the loose pass, giving Lydia Williams very little chance in goal.
A last-ditch effort from the Europeans saw them snatch all three points, as Bonansea secured her brace, latching on to the end of a set-piece in fifth minute of additional time.
City’s prolific trio, Williams, Catley and Yallop all started the match. Williams was called into action on numerous occasions, making a number of world-class saves, while Matildas vice-captain and City captain Steph Catley looked ever dangerous on the left wing and on set-piece duty.
Midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight entered the field of play as a late substitute after entering the clash under an injury cloud.
The Matildas will be looking to respond immediately in Group C when they take on Brazil in the early hours of Friday morning, kick-off 2:00am (AEST). Milicic’s side will need a positive result against the side ranked 10th in the world as they look to keep their hopes of progressing through to the knockout phase alive.
In the other Group C clash, Brazil defeated Jamaica 3-0 thanks to a superb hattrick from Cristiane Rozeira.