The Matildas kickstarted their Olympics campaign with a 2-1 win over New Zealand’s Football Ferns on Wednesday night.
When the final whistle blew at an empty Tokyo Stadium, celebrations were high for the Australian team, especially for Captain Sam Kerr, who managed to break her five-game goal-scoring drought when a corner from Steph Catley’s placed her in the perfect position to jump over Fern’s Meikayla Moore and head home off the crossbar for a strike.
Kerr also took advantage of a defensive error from the NZ team in the twentieth minute, tapping it to Tameka Yallop who tore the ball through the hands of New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler.
A short period of deliberation between officials caused a delay in the game, when it could not be determined whether the entire ball crossed the line after the second bounce took the ball out of the goal.
Not long after, the goal was made official, putting the Aussie team in a 2-0 lead.
The Ferns finally put a point on the score when substitute Gabi Rennie, making her Olympic debut, scored in the 91st minute.
Laurence Rosen, a producer at the Sports Entertainment Network, announced on Twitter that the game rated 635k (five city metro) on Channel 7.
Matildas captain Sam Kerr was happy with her team’s winning start in Tokyo after some lax performance leading into the Olympics.
“It’s always good to start a campaign with a win and it gives us a lot of confidence,” Kerr said. “But it’s only one step in the journey. Everything was for this moment. The results before didn’t go our way but we got the three points and move on. Hopefully we did Australia proud.”
In other news, the U.S Women’s National Team lost to Sweden 3-0 on Wednesday night, putting the Scandinavian country to the top of Group G, which is currently the most stacked of the women’s side of the football draw. The U.S team had not lost in 44 matches over two and a half years, a period of dominance that included a World Cup and over the 15 months of the global pandemic.
“We got our asses kicked,” Megan Rapinoe told reporters after the game. “Didn’t we?”
“I wouldn’t say they’ve gotten in our heads,” Rapinoe added, referring to the Swedish team. “But they’re one of the best teams in the world.”
The Matildas are currently placed second in Group G, with New Zealand coming in third and the World Cup winners and top-ranked U.S team last.
The Australian team will play Sweden in their next match on Saturday.