A brilliant second half fight back was not enough for Australia as they were defeated 2 - 3 by World No. 5 France in their second game of the Cyprus Cup.

First half goals from Marie Laure Delie, Elodie Thomis and Louisa Necib saw the French lead comfortably at the break before Australia hit back hard with second half goals from Sam Kerr and Emily Van Egmond penalty.

Despite late chances the French held on to top Group A and leave Australia in third position.

With Scotland defeating the Netherlands 4-3 in the earlier Group B match, both sides went looking for a win to keep apace with the Scots and it was France who started strongly.

Midfielder Camille Abily had the first sight of the Australian goal in the 5th minute but Lydia Williams comfortably handled her effort.

Minutes late the French were on the march again when a quick interchange of passes between Abily and Louisa Necib ended in latter striking low from a sharp angle but Williams was again present to gather.

It took until the 10th minute for Australia to get in behind the French defence only for captain Kate Gill to see her shot blocked.

In a high intensity match, France took the lead in the 12th minute when a defensive lapse saw the quick Marie Laure Delie take advantage to fire home the first goal.

Behind but not cowered, Australia looked to equalise on the re-start with Sam Kerr going close to finding the head of Gill in space.

The Matildas then enjoyed a sustained period of possession and created numerous chances.

Gill was again in the play in the 16th minute when a slick move with Katrina Gorry ended in the 2010 AFC Player of the Year netting only to see the offside flag held aloft.

Full back Teigen Allen then streamed forward to earn a free kick and then Australia’s first corner.

As befitting the end-to-end nature of the match, France cleared the corner before Delie found herself in one-on-one with Williams.

The bane of France’s existence the last time they played in June 2013, Williams was equal to the task in denying the Paris Saint-Germain striker a second goal.

A flurry of fouls in good areas gave Gorry and the Matildas opportunities to level with the best a floated free kick headed by Gill into the arms of Sarah Bouhaddi.

Australia were made to pay for the missed chances with two goals in quick succession giving Les Bleues a handy buffer.

First another corner ended in an Elodie Thomis breakaway and the Lyon striker produced a composed finish past Williams in the 27th minute.

Two minutes later it was Necib breaching the Matildas defence from the six yards out after the goalscorers Thomis and Delie initiated the attack.

Rocked, France dominated the remainder of the first half going into the interval with a comfortable 3-0 lead.

As they did last match, Australia started the second half confidently.

Arguably the Player of the Match, Katrina Gorry produced struck from 18 yards out from a corner over the French defence. The bouncing ball fell to Sam Kerr who turned it home to pull one back in the 53rd minute.

That same combination almost bore fruit again in the 59th minute but this time Gorry’s through ball had a little too much on it for Sydney FC forward Kerr to gather in.

France then fashioned a number of chances including a goal disallowed for offside and a Necib effort saved by the ever-present Williams.

Less than a minute later Australia had their second with Gorry again involved when Corine Franco brought down the Brisbane Roar midfielder.

Emily Van Egmond calmly converted to half the deficit as the Matildas grew in confidence.

A titanic midfield battle then ensued with Abily and Necib going head to head with Gorry, Van Egmond and Kellond-Knight.

The 73rd minute saw Thomis and Williams resume their battle when the speedster was released but again the Canberra United goalkeeper came out on top.

Williams was required again five minutes later as she athletically tipped over a sensational dipping, curling effort from Gaëtane Thiney? on the edge of the area.

Substitute Michelle Heyman went close to finding the busy Kerr in the 81st but her floated cross was centimeters away from the winger.

Down the other Thomis found some space and Necib only for the midfielder to head into the arms of the excellent Williams.

On top in general play and keeping France to counter attacks, Australia searched for the equaliser.

Despite late efforts, including a late free kick Van Egmond that caused chaos in the French penalty area, France held on to take top spot in Group A.

Although relying on other results, Australia still have a chance at making the Cyprus Cup final with a win against Scotland in their final group match on Tuesday, 11 March. Kick off is 2.30am (AEDST)

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Australia   2 (Kerr 53’, Van Egmond 63’(p))

France       3 (Delie 12’, Thomis 27’, Necib 30’)

Venue: GSP Stadium

Kick Off: 5.30pm (local time) / 2.30am (AEDST)

Matildas Starting XI: Lydia Williams (GK), Teigen Allen, Alanna Kennedy, Laura Alleway, Stephanie Catley, Elise Kellond-Knight, Katrina Gorry, Emily Van Egmond, Sam Kerr, Tameka Butt, Kate Gill

France Starting XI: Sarah Bouhaddi (GK), Corine Franco, Wendie Renard, Laura Georges, Laure Boulleau, Amandine Henry, Camille Abily, Louisa Necib, Elodie Thomis, Marie Laure Delie, Gaëtane Thiney

Stats: Australia / France

Poss: 52% / 48%

Corners: 2/4

Free Kicks: 19/4

Shots On Target: 7/14

Shots Off Target: 3/8


Australia v Scotland

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Kick Off: 2.30am (AEDST)