The Matildas have put their Women’s World Cup rivals on notice after securing a place in the quarter-finals with a 1-0 win over Brazil in Canada this morning.
Substitute Kyah Simon got the breakthrough goal after 80 minutes in wet and windy conditions against the 2007 runners-up, captained by former five-time world player of the year Marta.
Australia, ranked 10th in the world, is now preparing for a quarter-final clash against either fourth-ranked Japan or the 12th-ranked Netherlands, who face each other on Tuesday (local time).
Australia’s coach Alen Stajcic hailed Australia’s “exhilarating” first finals victory in a World Cup tournament as a “massively historic moment” and issued a warning to other teams.
“We’re a dangerous team, one of the most dangerous teams at the World Cup, if not the most dangerous team in going forward,” he said.
“Our defence was good again today.
“The first ever clean-sheet in history two games ago and now we’ve conceded one goal in three games — we’re an attacking team, you have to play good football to break us down.”
The Matildas have qualified for the Cup quarter-finals on two previous occasions, in 2007 and 2011, but this morning’s game was their first knockout victory.
The World Cup has a last-16 round for the first time as the tournament has been expanded to 24 teams.
Midfielder Elise Kellond-Knight said the team was “super proud” of the historic victory.
“There’s a sense of satisfaction, we’ve worked so hard for this,” she said.
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“This is the first time we’ve actually won a sudden death game in a World Cup, so the pride that comes through knowing that is tremendous and I’m just super satisfied of the performance we put out today.”
Goalkeeper Lydia Williams said she and her team-mates were still coming to terms with the magnitude of their achievement.
“All of us are pretty tired and it’s still sinking in what we’ve achieved so far,” she said.
“I think being away in Canada we don’t realise the strength of what we’re achieving back at home in newspapers or anything.
“So right now it’s recharging and getting ready for the next one and making sure that everyone is ready to go.”
Both teams fought to break through in a tight first half, with Marta, Andressina and Formiga all missing the target for the seventh-ranked Brazilians.
Marta missed another chance to add to her World Cup record 15 goals after 62 minutes when she hit wide of Williams, who did well to keep out a Cristiane effort after 78 minutes.
Stajcic brought on Simon after 64 minutes and it paid off with 10 minutes to go.
Captain Lisa De Vanna broke through with her shot punched out by Luciana in the Brazil goal straight into the path of the onrushing Simon, who made no mistake.
It was her third goal of the tournament after her stunning double against Nigeria in the group stage.
It was the only goal Brazil conceded in the tournament but it cost them dearly.
In the group stage the ‘Canarinhas’ won all three of their games without conceding, but when it came to the crunch they failed to create enough problems for a rock solid Australian defence.
Star performer Marta looked far from her best as she was neutralised by Australia’s disciplined marking and ability to close down space.
Footballing giants Brazil, the world’s seventh-ranked team, return home still awaiting a maiden title.
“We controlled the game, the statistics show that, the chances showed that but we lost the game and we are out,” Brazil coach Vadao said.
“Australia were very efficient and clinical when it counted with the goal, congratulations to them.”
In this morning’s other last 16 games, third-ranked France beat eight-ranked South Korea 3-0 in Montreal to set up a quarter-finals date with world number one Germany, while hosts Canada, ranked eighth in the world, downed 19th-ranked Switzerland 1-0 in Vancouver.
Canada takes on Norway or England for a spot in the last four.