In the end, it played out in a manner many Socceroos fans know all too well, but the Matildas opened their World Cup campaign brilliantly, nearly upsetting tournament favourites the USA before succumbing 3-1.
The USA opened early with a goal from midfielder Megan Rapinoe in the 12th minute, but the Matildas surprised the 35,000 strong crowd in Vancouver by going to halftime tied 1-1.
That was courtesy of veteran Matildas striker Lisa Marie De Vanna’s third goal in three consecutive World Cup finals, in her 100th game.
It gave the Aussies the confidence they need to hold – and push – the US deep into the second half.
The Matildas had several attempts at taking the lead early in the second half, but were surprised when forward Christen Press tapped in a cross to once again put the US in front.
Then followed several good chances for a Matildas equaliser, before Rapinhoe broke their spirit in the 78th minute. Her 40m rebounding run before firing a withering strike past Matilda’s ‘keeper Melissa Barbieri deflated the Aussie attack to finalise the score at 3-1.
It’s hard to say it could have been a better scoreline for the Matildas, who won plenty of respect. But it certainly could have been far worse. To go down 3-1 against the group favourite means they’re still in with a chance to make the next round if other scores go their way.
The win takes the USA’s record against Australia to 23 wins, 2 draws and still 0 defeats.
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