Australia beat Spain to win Cup of Nations

SYDNEY — Australia gained the Cup of Nations with their 3-2 win over Spain securing the Matildas the silverware after a three-goal first half for the 2023 Women’s World Cup co-hosts preceded a late rally from La Roja.

Cortnee Vine’s opening purpose was a stunner. Hayley Raso’s ball throughout the highest of the field discovered Vine, whose candy first-time hit left goalkeeper Misa Rodriguez diving however unable to cease it.

Clare Polkinghorne continues to moonlight as a striker as she added a second purpose to the scoresheet and purpose No. 16 to her personal worldwide tally. Sam Kerr may solely muster a looping header following Raso’s cross however Polkinghorne was in the best place — aided by a beneficial bounce — to end from an acute angle.

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Caitlin Foord, on her return to the beginning lineup, made it three by ghosting between the Spanish defenders to head dwelling from a Steph Catley set piece — one of the Matildas most respected attacking weapons.

The away facet dominated the second half, creating wave after wave of assault, clearly constructing to some kind of finish product. Some of their greatest probabilities got here via the likes of Alba Redondo, Esther Gonzalez and Olga Carmona with Mackenzie Arnold being known as on to make some tremendous saves. But the Aussie shot-stopper couldn’t hold out Olga’s strike within the 74th minute.

Redondo made it 3-2 within the ninetieth minute with a clear strike from shut vary to make issues fascinating however Australia did sufficient to safe their sixth straight win.

Rapid response

1. Pressing vs. passing

In the lead-up to the match Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson labelled this recreation a battle of urgent vs. passing. Spanish soccer is understood globally for its lovely passing actions and flowing soccer — regardless of gender or age. The Matildas have at all times been a staff lauded for his or her physicality, which has been channeled into elite urgent.

The query for Australia turned how greatest to strategy the issue Spain offered. They may have arrange extra defensively, utilizing a extra conventional No. 6 to clear up messes whereas nonetheless adopting a whole-team urgent strategy. But Gustavsson has spoken all through his complete tenure concerning the attacking DNA of this Matildas facet. To take a good hypothetical step again appeared at odds with what the Swede has been preaching for 2 years now.

Instead, the Matildas adopted the 4-4-2 that introduced them a lot pleasure within the again half of final yr, which allowed Kerr and Foord to press the centre-backs centrally, with Kyra Cooney-Cross and Katrina Gorry behind them and Vine and Raso out vast with Catley and Charli Grant of their respective full-back positions.

While the full-field press from the Matildas provided one choice to fight Spain, it produced one other concurrently. The Matildas typically hunt in packs within the centre of the park once they press — if one is sticking the boot in to get the ball away from the opposition, the opposite is there to run away with the free ball. Several instances this occurred, after which a direct go may very well be laid off to anybody of Kerr, Foord, Raso or Vine.

By advantage of being so top-heavy, the Matildas have been by no means brief of choices to exploit these transition moments. While Gustavsson praised this factor of his staff’s assault, he was simply as proud of the variation of their assault as a complete from mixture play to set items.

While the staff admitted to dropping off their press within the second half, they now have one other 45 minutes of proof as to what they’re succesful of.

2. The redemption of Mackenzie Arnold

It can be honest to say that the primary time these two sides met, in June final yr, nobody in green-and-gold had a very enjoyable day. Spain put seven previous Australia in what was the staff’s joint-second worst defeat of all-time. Yes, the Matildas allowed a number of gamers to miss the window, giving them a relaxation and permitting different gamers an opportunity to style worldwide soccer, however that was little comfort for individuals who took to the pitch, like Mackenzie Arnold.

After the Matildas held on to half-time with no targets scored or conceded, Arnold was subbed on for the second half. It was then that Spain asserted their dominance, piling on purpose after purpose. While correlation would not equal causation, Arnold struggled to regain the gloves at worldwide stage. Her type turned perplexing; she was so essential and so reliable for West Ham however seemingly could not reproduce that type for the Matildas.

The recreation towards the Czech Republic noticed her first begin for the nationwide staff in 391 days and her first look since that Spain loss. She entered the window off fantastic type at membership stage. This time, for Australia, she delivered and backed it up once more towards Spain.

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She was there to paw away shut photographs, was glorious along with her ft, and whereas the Matildas nonetheless conceded two, Arnold had already proved that she had turned no matter literal or metaphorical nook she wanted to. Gustavsson was delighted for her.

“I’m extremely happy for Macca because she has brought the club form and again, this is not what we’ve done,” he stated postmatch. “It’s what she’s done in club and she’s brought it into the national team and she had in the past, this is her own words, maybe not been able to bring the club performance into the national team environment. This camp, she has. I think she’s grown mentally and physically to be able to bring that.”

Her teammate Emily van Egmond dubbed her the participant of the match, and you would be arduous pressed to discover a higher candidate.

3. A lower than 90 minute efficiency was a… good factor?

It appears counter-intuitive to say that the Matildas not placing in a 90-minute shift 5 months out from the World Cup is definitely precisely what they need to be doing. But each Gustavsson and his staff have persistently rammed dwelling the truth that the Cup of Nations is a observe run for the World Cup.

The factor about observe runs is they do not have to be excellent. And this recreation towards Spain, whereas confidence-inducing and pleasurable from a fan perspective, was not excellent. The staff has such little time collectively, and even much less time to observe in-game eventualities.

With a comfortable 3-0 lead at half-time, reasonably than sit again or hold their foot on the accelerator, the staff modified formations. Several substitutions have been made with Gustavsson mentioning they shifted to a extra fluid again 5 in defence, again three in assault setup through the second half.

Using these alternatives to their fullest whereas additionally constructing the arrogance of gamers and followers and honing what is going to want to be carried out come July is a tricky balancing act however, tonight at the least, the Matildas appeared to tick all three bins.

“I thought we came out, started really well, on the front foot, but at the end of the day, this is a prep for the World Cup.” captain Kerr stated postmatch.

“So we wanted to try different things and a result against this team, that has had some really big results over the last six, seven months, they beat the USA, they tied with Sweden. So we’re really proud of ourselves. Obviously would have liked to have finished the game a bit stronger. But this is the time to like I said, prepare for the World Cup try anything.”

Best and worst performers


Hayley Raso: The Matildas winger backed up her nice efficiency towards the Czech Republic with a very beautiful first half towards Spain

Mackenzie Arnold: The West Ham ‘keeper was big for the Matildas, stopping at the least three close to sure targets for Spain.

Olga Carmona: The Real Madrid participant was notably good in assault and scored a shocking strike to get Spain on the board within the second half.


Larissa Crummer: She was the Matildas substitute who was given probably the most time on the park however she was virtually unsighted for her 32-minute cameo.

Jenni Hermoso: Barring one shot heading in the right direction, the most-capped participant on this Spanish nationwide facet didn’t present a lot of the play that had defenders throughout the globe shaking of their boots.

Ivana Andres: The left-back was routinely confirmed up within the first half towards the tempo and guile of each Vine and Raso.

Highlights and notable moments

Football Australia partnered with Sydney WorldPride 2023 earlier within the week and the Matildas proudly wore LGBTQIA+ Pride-coloured numbers on the again of their jerseys for the sport towards Spain. It’s the primary time an Australian nationwide soccer staff has taken half in a Pride initiative and it appeared fairly schmick as effectively.

Vine remains to be a beginner on the Matildas block however she could have already scored one of the very best strikes of her budding nationwide staff profession. The poor spiders had no likelihood.

After the match: What managers, gamers stated

Kerr on Foord’s purpose: “Her goal actually, she was meant to be blocking for me and I told her don’t block for me, you can just get in and I should have gone myself actually, because I probably would have scored.”

Foord on the efficiency: “It’s annoying to concede but I mean at the end of the day, you’re going to tell me iwe’d beat Spain 3-2, I’d take that.”

Kerr on the Pride numbers: “We have such an inclusive team — always have and probably always will be. So it was something we were really excited about.”

Key stats

– The Matildas are presently on a six recreation successful streak, stretching again to October 2022.

– Spain conceded three targets in a recreation for the primary time in 51 video games.

Up subsequent

Australia: With the Matildas win, they’ve claimed the Cup of Nations. They will look to spherical out the event with a win towards Jamaica.

Spain: While Spain’s loss is a blip, they’ll look to end the Cup of Nations strongly as they face the Czech Republic.

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