The Matildas maintained their unbeaten run in the Tournament of Nations on Monday, holding a star-studded United States team to a 1-1 draw in Hartford, Connecticut.
The result sees the two teams equal on points and goal difference, meaning the Matildas must beat AFC rivals Japan and hope that Brazil keep the US to a draw on Friday if the Aussies are to retain their ToN title.
The 21,570 fans who packed into Pratt & Whitney Stadium were silenced in the 22nd minute when midfielder Chloe Logarzo slipped in behind the US backline to slot home the opener, finishing off a storming counter-attacking run by Lisa De Vanna.
The second half saw the hosts pile on the pressure, registering twice as many shots on goal and winning eight more corners than their opponents. That pressure eventually paid off in the 91st minute when Megan Rapinoe’s corner found the in-form Lindsey Horan at the back post, dashing Australia’s hopes of a second consecutive win against the US.
This is the third game in a row in which the Matildas have conceded late goals. In April, they lost the AFC Women’s Asian Cup final to Japan 1-0 after Kumi Yokoyama’s 85th minute strike. More recently, Brazilian midfielder Debinha scored a 79th minute goal in Brazil’s 3-1 loss to Australia in their ToN opener.
Despite the late goal, Matildas head coach Alen Stajcic was thrilled with his team’s defensive efforts against the US.
“It was probably one of the best defensive performances we’ve done,” Stajcic said.
“There was a lot of desperation. I thought our centre backs were excellent and I thought that our whole team as a collective defended really well and despite being under pressure for large portions of the match we didn’t really give away too many clear-cut chances.”
On the team’s attacking efforts, Stajcic was a little more critical.
“On the ball we probably didn’t have as much composure as we normally do and that is the part that we have to fix up before we play them (USA) again. (I am) so proud of the group, the way they knuckled down and did the hard yards and really fought to the end,” he said.
As for the stoppage-time corner that resulted in the equaliser?
“Bar a goal kick call that was given as a corner, maybe we could have hung on that little bit extra. But those things happen in football and we are all certainly proud of the effort that the players put in today.”
The Matildas’ final match against Japan will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 505 and on the My Football Live app from 7:45am AEST on Friday, 3 August.