Australia is through to the final of the Asian Cup after another nailbiter.
Alanna Kennedy’s last gasp header off a perfect Kellond-Knight corner took the Matildas to extra time, but the Matildas had to deliver from the penalty spot to take the first finals spot.
It was Sam Kerr who put the final penalty into the net after Mackenzie Arnold redeemed her earlier errors to save three penalties in the shootout, leaving Australia relieved and Thailand disappointed after an outstanding attempt that gave Australia a massive scare.
Having lost 5-0 to Australia just a month ago, Thailand proved that tournament play is a different prospect to friendlies.
Australia showed that football is a human pursuit, subject to the foibles of human error.
Australia lacked composure and their trademark spark in the first half with loose passing, clumsy challenges, and furrowed brows.
In contrast, Thailand appeared light on their feet and light in mood.
Australia struck first in the 18th minute with an own goal off a short corner when Gielnik sent a dangerous ball into the box.
Kanjanaporn looked to shrink away from the clearing header and the ball flicked into the back of her net.
Thailand’s equaliser was the opposite scenario, with Kanjana pushing her way past Kennedy, tapping the ball over Arnold who couldn’t retreat and celebrating as the ball spilt from Arnold’s hands into the net.
Catley brought positivity to the park after halftime and their touches looked more deliberately offensive in the early minutes.
She nearly added to their woes with a poor back pass that saw Kanjana with another clear chance on goal.
Thailand’s second goal came through a defensive blunder from Australia with Arnold slicing a clearance, Kennedy not able to control, and Rattikan blasting the ball past Arnold into the top corner.
The injection of Emily Van Egmond and Sam Kerr lifted the intent of the Matildas but didn’t stem the intensity of Thailand who continued their press all over the park.
Thailand used stoppages cleverly to diffuse Australia’s rhythm and survived the minutes where players were sidelined through injury
In the closing minutes of the game, Wilaiporn received a second yellow card having tripped up Kerr, her send off becoming more consequential to the game after Australia’s equaliser which sent the match into extra time.
It was a Kellond-Knight perfect corner, whipped in to sit up for Kennedy to drill home perfectly with a neat header, that kept the Matildas’ campaign alive.
Australia dominated the first half of extra time and showed more of the confident style they are becoming known for.
The best chance of the half came from a Carpenter overlapping run, with her cross chested down by Simon, and the shot from Van Egmond blocked.
The second half was mostly Australia as well, notwithstanding the excellence of Thai keeper Waraporn and the endurance of goal scorer Kanjana.
Another powerful header from Kennedy was stopped on the line and DeVanna wasn’t able to poke the ball past her with the spills.
The penalty shootout was full of drama with Van Egmond missing to the top right, and Ainon giving Thailand the lead.
From there it was all Australia, courtesy of three saves from Arnold.
Kellond-Knight converted before De Vanna’s penalty was saved.
Catley finished calmly, and Kerr stepped up to put the game beyond doubt, giving Australia another last gasp life in the Asian Cup as they face the winner of Japan and China.