Undone In Augsberg

Australia went into their quarter-final match with Norway relaxed and confident, yet the opening ten minutes they looked far from assured, giving away cheap possession and looking heavy legged.

In just the eleventh minute they paid the price. Schelin was played in down the left and with time and space picked out Sjorgan, was allowed to take a touch and then beat Melissa Barbieri at her near post.

Within a minute they had Ellyse Perry to thank that it was not 2-0 as she blocked a powerful strike in the box, but in the 16th minute she was at fault. Allowing Schelin to go past her with ease the Swede crossed to the unmarked Dahlkvist who powered her header past Barbieri from six yards. How the tall Swede could be unmarked and the Matildas keeper did not attack the ball was mystifying.

It appeared that Tom Sermanni’s faith in his captain and decision to bring in Ellyse Perry to allow Caitlin Foord to get forward had misfired.

In the 25th minute a hesitate clearance allowed Schelin the chance to run into the box, Uzunlar was quick to poke the ball away, but not to safety, and the Swede with time and space curled a shot tantalizingly close to Barbieri’s far post.

The last quarter of an hour of the first half Australia started to find their passing rhythm, although a lack of movement on the flanks from Garriock and Foord meant possession was restricted to around the halfway line.

Finally when Foord did get the ball down the right she won a corner. The ball was played to Ellyse Perry at the edge of the box and she let fly with a stupendous strike that arrowed into the top left hand corner of Lindahl’s goal. The perfect strike, and the perfect time to score, Australia were still alive.as they went in at half time.

Despite opening the second half positively the Matildas continued to self-destruct. Kim Carroll with too much time telegraphed and under hit a back pass to Barbieri in the 53rd minute. Schelin, picked up the loose ball knocked it one side of Barbieri, ran the other and tapped it into an empty net.

Just after the hour mark Tameka Butt, who had replaced Ellyse Perry had all in the stadium on the edge of the seats when she found space down the right. Her deep cross picked out Kyah Simon at the back post, but she steered her header the wrong side of the post.

Three minutes later Heather Garriock played a ball forward for Lisa de Vanna. It looked a certainty that the defender would get there first but the tenacious de Vanna won the foot race, beat the keeper, but could not curl the ball home from an acute angle and the supporting players were nowhere.

Next it was a corner that Butt headed straight at the Swedish ‘keeper as the Australians piled on the pressure. Then Simon broke and crossed for de Vanna, too high but the defending header fell to Garriock whose strike deflected into the arms of Lindahl.

As much as they attacked they were always vulnerable to being caught on the break.

With 12 minutes to go Oqvist found space in the penalty area, and shot from a tight angle, Barbieri blocked, the rebound came back to the Swede but her second attempt was deflected wide.

In the 82nd minute Tameka Butt unleashed a rising shot from outside of the area that Lindahl spectacularly pushed around the post. Poor delivery from the corner meant the Matildas failed to capitalize.

The finals whistle sounded and tears were shed, but it is important to remember that this was the youngest team in the tournament, with an average age of just 22. These young players were hurting because they knew that they did not give a true account of their abilities, they lost because of their own mistakes.

They lost to a team of full time professionals, which makes one wonder how far this group of talented young women could go if they were afforded the opportunity to solely focus on football.

Undone In Augsberg
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