As the thunderous crowd of around 15,270 watched with glee from the stands, the Matildas prevailed 3-1 in their first home match in just under two years.
The Matildas opened the scoring in the 38th minute, with Claire Polkinghorne tapping home a headed square ball from Sam Kerr, after a superb set piece from Steph Catley.
The jubilant Australian side doubled their lead in the 66th minute, with a beautiful lobbed cross from Emily Van Egmond finding the head of Mary Fowler at the back post, who calmly guided the ball home.
Just two minutes later, Brazil halved the advantage, after Alanna Kennedy struggled to control a hard back-pass, Adriana was free to calmly finish against the stranded Lydia Williams.
However, the Matildas responded in the 80th minute, with Emily Van Egmond stroking the ball home after a fantastic run and cutback from Steph Catley.
COULD A BACK FOUR SYMBOLISE A NEW ERA FOR GUSTAVSSON?
This fixture saw a key difference formation wise for the Matildas, with manager Tony Gustavsson lining up with a back four of Steph Catley, Alanna Kennedy, Claire Polkinghorne and Ellie Carpenter.
It came with its positive and negatives, with the Matildas looking more fluid in the final third, but left open on defensive transitions.
It allowed Carpenter to push forwards, providing her usual lung busting runs to overlap down the right flank, which was increasingly important for the Matildas throughout the 90 minutes.
It meant that Mary Fowler, Kyah Simon and Caitlin Foord could all play behind Sam Kerr, while Emily Gielnik and Haley Raso will also come into the side and push for positions.
The positional fluidity allowed the aforementioned starters to rotate consistently between the left wing, right wing and number ten position, keeping the Brazil defence on their toes throughout.
It’s a matter of risk vs reward for the Matildas – while the defensive solidity may be on the more open side, with the attacking weaponry at Gustavsson’s disposal, outscoring the opposition could be the way to go.
With a transition to a back four, Kyra Cooney-Cross played as a sole number six, at the base of midfield.
The A-League Women’s young footballer of the year starred in a more deep lying playmaker role.
Her long range passing was on full show, as Gustavsson applauded her sprayed balls out to fullbacks Carpenter and Catley.
She moved well in between the lines to create space for herself and teammates, cleverly finding space in between the two Brazil strikers, while her silky first touch allowed her to stroll away from her marker with ease.
Her passing remained smooth and sensible, helping the Matildas to control play and pass through midfield, something they struggled with immensely at the Olympics.
Her tackles were clean and well timed, and while she moved to a more advanced role after Clare Wheeler entered the fray, Cooney-Cross could be the tidy, pacesetter in midfield that the Matildas have gone too long without.
CROWD AT ANOTHER LEVEL
It’s more than safe to say that the crowd had a major impact on the way this friendly played out.
From the first minute, the voices erupted with euphoria at the Matildas’ positive moves – from the deafening cheer that followed Polkinghorne’s opener to the electrified clapping that followed throw-ins been given to Australia.
It’s not unreasonable to suggest that the crowd had a substantial impact on the attacking energy the Matildas showed, and the intense pressing throughout the match.
With more support like this during the 2023 World Cup, it’s looking certain to turn out as one of the most memorable sporting tournaments in Australian history.
International friendly: CommBank Stadium
Australia 3 (Polkinghorne 38m, Fowler 66m, Van Egmond 80m)
Brazil 1 (Adriana 68m)
How the coaches reacted:
“Of course it’s always great to coach against so-called ‘coaching friends’. I’m really happy that he’s now the head coach of the Matildas, and of course congratulations to him. But when you’re standing there it’s all about the two forty-five minutes, and the players and tactics and so on.
“At times there were spaces, and we have technical players. We could have utilised our speed on the ball better. Australia plays tough, and they have some good players on the flanks.”
“I think they (the players) got tremendous help from the supporters, they really carried them forward. With the energy, enthusiasm and tempo, we should have been 2-0 up within those first 20 minutes. That shows what we want to be about.
“We did look into improving our defending side, but not at the expense of our attacking mindset. I think it played out pretty well tonight, but we also have to balance the view on this performance a little bit. Their transitions were dangerous. We could have copped a couple of goals from them, and we were lucky (in that aspect) to be honest.”
Image Source: Football Australia