Mary Fowler, Tegan Micah and Sam Kerr were the heroes in a miracle win over Team GB in the Olympic Quarter finals
Australia began the game on the front foot, denying Team GB time to play out the back and pressing hard. They passed confidently and quickly but the first chance came to the British.
Lauren Hemp raced down the wing and flicked a pass to Rachel Daly who was offside but it was a warning to Australia. Kiera Walsh was next to threaten with a long-range effort that crashed off the upright.
Micah was called into action again, blocking a close-range Hemp strike after the ball had initially been tipped onto the bar. Australia was absorbing pressure but just barely.
When Australia attacked in the first half it was by the flanks. Although Catley and Raso found space to cross, they could not beat the first defender.
Sam Kerr found space and surged forward on a long solo run, the cross was again blocked but this time Australia had a corner. From the resulting set-piece, Alanna Kennedy rose to meet Catley’s ball in, she headed into the bottom corner to score the opening goal.
Team GB looked to have an opportunity to hit back in the second half but Ellie Carpenter raced back to recover. Not content with defending, Carpenter carried the ball forward with a burst of speed. She played it long and the cross from Raso just evaded Sam Kerr’s head.
In the 58th minute Team, GB broke through. Hemp cut inside and whipped a curling ball in that White only had to direct home to equalize.
White again took advantage of an error in the Australian defense, Kennedy and Aivi Luik became tangled after a long throw and the ball bounced to White who thrashed it home.
Gustavsson went to his bench in the 80th minute, Emily Gielnik, Kyra Cooney-Cross and Mary Fowler came on in an effort to change the momentum. Australia pushed for an equalizer but had no luck until Sam Kerr did what Sam Kerr does.
The Captain controlled a long ball into the box, took a touch, composed herself, and scored an 89th minute deserved equalizer.
Tony Gustavsson has largely solved the long-standing issue with set-pieces but it only took one error to change the game in Team GB’s favour.
White very nearly scored in extra time turning and shooting from six yards, but again Micah was able to tip it over miraculously soon after another stunning save from Walsh.
Nikiti Parris, on as a substitute earned a questionable penalty and Australian hearts sank. Tegan Micah stared down the shot and dove to her left to rescue a result and the ball went up the other end.
It was here that another hero was made, Mary Fowler controlled a dropping ball and turned in one movement. she looked up, shot and the ball sailed into the back of the net.
With Team GB still in resurgence, Sam Kerr sent her new home a reminder of what she does best. a Catley cross was nodded in off the bar and she screamed in triumph as The Matildas went up 4-2
Ellen White scored her third in the last moments of the game yet another cross gave Team GB a lifeline when her header beat Micah.
Hearts remained in mouths as added time ticked over, Sam Kerr earned a crucial free-kick after drawing a foul and it was enough to ensure a famous victory for Australian football.
WHERE TO NEXT?
Australia has come a long way in a short time. Having not played in over a year, they regrouped and brushed off some embarrassing friendly results. they survived a difficult group and made it to the knockout stages, which is encouraging.
But with the World Cup looming, time is of the essence.
Central defence remains an issue with depth and form in the position an issue.
GOALS HAVE BEEN FOUND
Although Kennedy scored and Foord hit the post the attack still largely went through Sam Kerr for the majority of the Olympic tournament. She scored her fourth and fifth goals of the tournament in this game and is ever reliable but she will not be ever-present.
Gielnik, Foord, Simon, and Catley all had chances to hit the scoreboard but failed to target. There are scoring options, this is not as big an issue as it appeared a month ago.
Mary Fowler enhanced her burgeoning reputation with a match-winning appearance off the bench, her goal will go into national team folklore. She has arrived.
THE TIME IS MICAH’S
The Tokyo Olympics has thrown up questions but also given one answer, Tegah Micah is the new number one. The Rosengard keeper has been difficult to beat, composed in possession, and calm under a high ball.
When the pressure was on in extra time, she faced a penalty and played her way into legend.
The Matildas have looked much more secure at the back since her emergence and the position is now hers to lose.
Australia vs Team GB Olympic Quarter Final – Kashima Stadium
Team GB: 1 Ellie Roebuck, 2 Lucy Bronze, 3 Demi Stokes (10Fran Kirby 58), 5 Stephanie Houghton, 16 Leah Williamson, 11 Caroline Weir, 12 Rachel Daly (14 Millie Bright), 4 Kiera Walsh, 8 Kim Little ( 18 Jill Scott), 15 Lauren Hemp (7 Nikita Parris 97), 9 Ellen White
Australia: 18 Teagan Micah, 5 Aivi Luik (3 Kyra Cooney-Cross 80), 14 Alanna Kennedy, 12 Ellie Carpenter, 16 Hayley Raso (6 Logarzo 88), 7 Steph Catley, 10 Emily van Egmond, 13 Tameka Yallop, 2 Sam Kerr, 17 Kyah Simon (11 Mary Fowler 80), 9 Caitlin Foord (15 Emily Gielnik 80).
Yellow Cards Sam Kerr 26, Lucy Bronze 45, Kyah Simon 69, Georgia Stanway 120
Red Cards : None
Australia: Alanna Kennedy 36, Sam Kerr 89, 106, Mary Fowler 103.
Team GB: Ellen White 57, 66, 115