Australia 0-3 USA: international women’s football friendly – as it happened

The Guardian
The Guardian

6.11am GMT


The USA were lacking most of the superstar names that have seen them dominate international football, but the young squad on display in Sydney proved good enough to defeat Australia in their own back yard.

A goal inside 30 seconds proved crucial with Australia’s callow central defensive partnership of Jessika Nash and Courtney Nevin gifting Ashley Hatch her second international strike and allowing the USWNT to defend in numbers and protect their lead.

Opportunities came and went for both sides in an end-to-end first half with the Matildas looking dangerous down the left when Sam Kerr linked up with Caitlin Foord. Kyah Simon will rue an awful miss from point-plank range.

And that shocker was reinforced shortly after the interval when Margaret Purce’s pace opened the door for the excellent Rose Lavelle to hammer home. A soft penalty to Lindsey Horan sealed the deal.

Horan, wearing the recently vacated No 10 jersey, was the leading outfield player, directing her side from midfield and always offering an outlet. But the game’s individual star was debutant goalkeeper Casey Murphy. The 25-year-old made a couple of eye-catching saves, but more than that, she commanded her penalty area and played with an assurance that belied her inexperience.

For Australia, the experiment with an untested central defensive combination lasted only until half-time, but whether it’s employing novices or veterans Tony Gustavsson has his work cut out drilling his side not to concede poor goals. For all the brio going forward the lapses at the back throughout 2021 have been embarrassing for a side aiming to win a World Cup in 18 months.

But, with a record crowd in attendance, despite Sydney’s lousy weather, the bandwagon continues to build towards WWC 2023 on home soil.

This particular caravan rattles north to Newcastle for the second leg of this double-header on Tuesday. It would be nice if there was no need for anyone to trot out the “had their opportunities” and “hard done to” homilies after that one, or at least turn a more critical eye to why they are expressed so often.

Updated at 6.14am GMT

5.59am GMT

The immediate reaction on Australian TV includes the phrases: “definitely had their opportunities,” and “hard done to by the scoreline.” A familiar refrain in 2021.

5.54am GMT

Full-time: Australia 0-3 USA

A young USWNT scored early in each half, and tucked away a penalty, to see off the Matildas in front of a record crowd in Sydney.
Rose Lavelle celebrates with team mates after scoring. Photograph: David Gray/AFP/Getty Images

5.50am GMT

89 mins: Only two clean sheets in that time too, it should be added, and another showing this afternoon that raises serious questions about the readiness at the back for a World Cup on home soil.

5.46am GMT

85 mins: As an aside, Gustavsson’s record after today’s defeat will read: 15 matches in charge for only three wins and nine defeats. He has avoided even a glimmer of scrutiny so far, but at some point surely all the positivity around the Matildas and his history with the US is overtaken by cold hard reality?

Updated at 5.47am GMT

5.43am GMT

83 mins : Australia’s attacking structure has disintegrated. A lovely build-up ended up being recycled backwards when nobody made a run into the box. Then a hopeful long-ball targeted nobody. Until eventually the US cleared and Horan almost found another cutback assist but van Egmond was on hand to cut out.

5.40am GMT

80 mins: Well done Sydney. A new record crowd for the Matildas on home soil, and the second biggest in history for the USWNT outside America.

5.38am GMT

79 mins: As the substitutions grow in number we are in danger of petering out here in Sydney.

Updated at 5.41am GMT

5.37am GMT

78 mins: Not for the first time today Australia are caught out playing out from the back. Huerta on this occasion is alert to the telegraphed switch from the base of midfield to the left fullback.

5.36am GMT

77 mins: The US are running down the clock where they can, taking the sting out of the closing stages.

5.34am GMT

75 mins: Carpenter intercepts and storms out of the centre of defence. She feeds Raso down the right, but her cross is poor - and there was nobody attacking the six-yard box anyway.

5.33am GMT

74 mins : Horan has been on the receiving end of some treatment by the Matildas this afternoon, much of it, I expect, retribution for the penalty incident.

5.31am GMT

72 mins: Promising for Australia down the left after good work from Catley but Yallop’s lung-busting run is undermined by a woefully overhit return pass.

5.30am GMT

70 mins: It’s all getting a bit a flat and ragged for the Matildas now.

5.29am GMT

69 mins: Another good save to add to Murphy’s collection. Fowler did well to work herself some space and face forward before unleashing a fierce left-footed drive that Murphy is forced to tip over the bar.

5.28am GMT

GOAL! Australia 0-3 USA (Horan, 68 pen)

The visitors mount a scrappy attack, Horan chases the loose ball, Carpenter’s leg reaches out, the attacker finds it, tumbles, and the referee points to the spot. Very soft, but probably just about there. Carpenter was asking for trouble, even if Horan did make a meal of things.

Horan picks herself up and smashes an unstoppable spot kick beyond Micah and into the side of the net.

5.26am GMT

65 mins : Without Kerr Australia have lost their structure. Fowler and Foord are buzzing around, but the purposeful vertical passes that have forced the US back four into decisions have gone.

5.22am GMT

63 mins : Sam Kerr’s day is over. She got through 60 minutes despite not being fully fit. Cooney-Cross is on for her 13th cap.

5.20am GMT

60 mins: Chance at the other end now with Williams forcing Micah into a low save after Australia failed to deal with another bouncing ball. Gustavsson still has plenty of organisational work to do in that third of the pitch.

5.19am GMT

59 mins: Chance! Grant does superbly to burn through the US defence to collect a loose ball on the right and dink over an inch perfect cross for Kerr but the striker’s header is straight at Murphy, once again in the right place at the right time.

5.17am GMT

57 mins: Sloppy from the US playing out of defence and Foord pressures Davdison into a heart-stopping moment, but the block tackle ricochets out of play.

5.15am GMT

54 mins: There’s been plenty of neat attacking football this afternoon, but debutant Casey Murphy has been flawless in goal. This has been a superb, confident, eye-catching debut.

5.13am GMT

53 mins: First decent move of the half from the Matildas with Foord and Kerr sharing a one-two to carve open the US defence down the left until Kerr’s cross is blocked for corner. That pairing has offered Australia the most joy this afternoon.

5.12am GMT

52 mins: Another half-chance for the US. Horan whips in the cross from the left, Hatch wins the header at the near post but she can’t find the angle with Micah stranded.

5.11am GMT

51 mins: Agreed...

marshmallowauthor 27 November 2021 5:03am

Fowler has gone ‘missing’. We’ve consistently failed to pass it to her, preferring long ball to Kerr, or playing wide.

5.10am GMT

GOAL! Australia 0-2 USA (Lavelle, 49)

Picture the archetypal Man City goal. Purce is too quick and strong to get around the outside of Australia’s defence on the right. She gets to the byline and pulls the ball back for Lavelle to drill home from 8 yards out. Micah will be disappointed the shot beat her low to her left, but it was fiercely struck from point-blank range. Just like the first half, the US are out of the blocks early.

Updated at 5.19am GMT

5.08am GMT

48 mins: Another of the Aussies to endure horror moments that first half, Kiyah Simon, has also been hooked. Hayley Raso and Charlotte Grant are on. For the US, Huerta is on for Fox.

5.07am GMT

47 mins: Some reshuffling for both teams at the break, including Carpenter shifting from the right to the centre of defence in place of 17-year-old Nash. That might make sense defensively for the Matildas, but it also robs them of their primary attacking weapon down the right.

5.05am GMT

46 mins: We’re back underway at Stadium Australia.

4.50am GMT

Half-time: Australia 0-1 USA

That was a very entertaining half of football. How it is only 1-0 is beyond me.
Australia started badly. Photograph: David Gray/AFP/Getty Images

Updated at 4.51am GMT

4.49am GMT

45 mins: Australia should equalise in the last minute of the half. Fowler is superb, profiting from a turnover in midfield and driving forward before sliding through an inch-perfect through-ball for Kerr, but the sharpshooter’s left-footed finish is tame and the superb Murphy is equal to it. The debutant is at it again soon afterwards, tipping over from Foord’s rising drive.

4.47am GMT

42 mins: Gustavsson has empowered his central defenders to carry the ball through the lines and into midfield. It is, to put it politely, a bold gambit. Nevin has attempted the manoeuvre on a few occasions and while the bravery is to be admired the execution has lacked precision. With 18-months until the World Cup, it could blossom into a defining characteristic, but it also may end up blowing up in Australia’s faces if there is insufficient cover.

4.44am GMT

40 mins: But at the other end Australia are being opened up with regularity too. This time Williams doesn’t even get a shot away despite the ball rolling in her direction just 14 yards out. 1-0 is an unlikely scoreline given the chances.

4.43am GMT

39 mins: Fowler has a snapshot from the edge of the box but Murphy is well positioned again. Australia are opening up the USA consistently.

4.43am GMT

38 mins: Oh wow. Simon has just earned herself a place on highlights reels all over the world. Foord hunts down an overhit cross, dances into the box, squares the ball to Simon inside the six-yard box with the goal at her mercy, and she slams her left footed effort over the bar. That will haunt a striker on any pitch anywhere in the world. Incredible miss.

Updated at 4.45am GMT

4.39am GMT

37 mins: After that bright start Fowler has gone missing - which is a familiar criticism of the talented prodigy.

4.39am GMT

35 mins: Purce has to score! Long ball over the top catches the Australian defence flat footed but she lashes over the bar with only Micah to beat. Poor finish with much more time to pick her spot than she realised.

Updated at 5.10am GMT

4.38am GMT

33 mins: First decent strike on target for the Matildas, but Simon shoots straight at Murphy after good work from Kerr. The latter then takes matters into her own hands, striking dangerously from range, drawing a top class save from Murphy, plucking the ball out of her top-left corner. The debutant follows all that with a commanding mark from the resulting corner. Excellent few minutes from the newcomer.

4.35am GMT

32 mins : Murphy does well to claim a decent cross from van Egmond. Gustavsson will be disappointed it was an unopposed catch on the penalty spot, exactly where runners should have been steaming in for the finish. The US go down the other end and earn the match’s first corner.

4.33am GMT

30 mins: The crowd volume rises many decibels when the Matildas attack, revealing the sound of thousands of young voices urging as one. They become particularly agitated when space is engineered down the flanks but decent deliveries from both right and left are dealt with efficiently by the US defence.

4.32am GMT

28 mins : Another huge opportunity for the visitors. Lavelle does brilliantly on the right to beat her opponent and make room for a cross. Horan helps it on when she could have hit the target, and then despite winning the second ball Williams isn’t decisive enough just metres from goal.

4.29am GMT

26 mins: The frenetic early tempo is slowing down a touch, but Ellie Carpenter is becoming more involved down Australia’s right, so there remain bursts of extreme speed and chaos.

4.28am GMT

24 mins: Good run from Yallop down the left, but she can’t find a gold shirt with her cross. Australia have linked well going forward but the US have defended their 18-yard-box smartly.

4.26am GMT

22 mins : Another golden opportunity for the USA. Great interplay on the left, the cross from Williams across the face of goal is teasing, but the finishing touch at the far post is wide with Micah beaten.

4.23am GMT

19 mins: Back down the other end, Hatch forces Micah into a routine save with an off-balance shot from the edge of the box.

4.22am GMT

18 mins: Australia remain on the front foot and Simon should do better with a header from the penalty spot after she was found by Yallop. This is an open fast-paced contest.

4.22am GMT

17 mins: The US play out from the back and almost reach the final third but Australia have bodies to cover. Even then there’s an element of panic in the defensive act. The Matildas counter at speed thanks to Carpenter, tearing down the right with the ball at her feet, but her pass to Kerr is poor and the move fizzles out.

4.20am GMT

16 mins: Superb hold-up play from Kerr brings Australia onto the attack. Foord takes over, driving into the penalty area, but she’s smothered. The ball gets recycled smartly by the gold jerseys but the second entry is headed out of danger. Everything coming down the left for the Matildas so far.

4.18am GMT

16 mins: Another awful turnover in midfield, Yallop this time, but without Lavelle on the field the US don’t have the bodies in support to capitalise.

4.17am GMT

14 mins: Lavelle is receiving some attention for a knock to the face so both coaches are busy delivering instructions from the touchline.

4.16am GMT

12 mins: The visitors look dangerous in transition, and they are forcing turnovers in dangerous areas repeatedly. Even when the ball is recovered close to their own goal the out ball is effective and sets up runners at pace. For Australia, Fowler is the brightest spark, dropping into pockets between the lines like a veteran trequartista, not an 18-year-old Queenslander.

4.13am GMT

10 mins: Another cheap turnover in Australia’s half, and again Lavelle has a shooting opportunity, this time skewed wide from the edge of the box with her left foot.

4.11am GMT

8 mins: While the defence is a shambles, Australia are going through the gears going forward. Fowler and Catley continue to be busy, while van Egmond has found Kerr with a raking pass that the latter turned into a weak snapshot on the turn. There’s good pressure out of possession to deny the US chance to build from the back.

4.10am GMT

6 mins: Yikes! Nevin has had a nightmare, getting robbed in possession on the edge of her own box by Lavelle, but with only Micah to beat the angle narrowed and the shot was slashed off target. Huge let off for Australia. This is a catastrophic start defensively.

4.08am GMT

5 mins: Better from the hosts, winning the ball in midfield and then creating an overlap on the left wing through Fowler and Catley, the combination that looked so promising against Brazil.

4.07am GMT

3 mins: The early stages have been all USA on the front foot. There’s more intent and aggression from the visitors and the Matildas look at best passive and at worst shellshocked.

Updated at 4.12am GMT

4.06am GMT

GOAL! Australia 0-1 USA (Hatch, 1)

I blame The Wiggles. It took just 24 seconds for the US to take the lead! It was an ugly goal to concede, the US just hustling the ball forward with a series of contested headers of second balls. Australia’s young defence couldn’t deal with the bouncing ball and Ashley Hatch stole in, controlled the ball well on her chest and stroked the finish calmly past Micah. Awful start for Australia, and debutant Jessica Nash.

4.03am GMT


We’re underway at Stadium Australia...

4.02am GMT

Australia are dressed in their familiar gold jersey and green shorts combination. The US are in their change strip of red and blue stripes resembling the split second a jenga tower collapses, complemented by dark shorts and socks.

4.00am GMT

The US national anthem was delivered a cappella, with zero fanfare. An excellent job. Advance Australia Fair - oh boy - that was delivered by The Wiggles. Simon, the red Wiggle, took the closing notes like Pavarotti steaming in to claim all the glory at the end of the Three Tenors. This is not a drill.

Updated at 4.03am GMT

3.55am GMT

Out walk the two squads onto Stadium Australia to the soundtrack of some VERY dramatic music, which isn’t really complimented by the overcast skies and sparsely populated Olympic stadium.

3.47am GMT

The Wiggles are warming up the crowd prematch. If Adam Hurrey @footballcliches is watching, this is very “game’s gone” areas. And I am all in.

Updated at 3.52am GMT

3.44am GMT

Tonight’s skipper for the Matildas, Tameka Yallop, is settling into life in London, with plenty to keep her occupied.

Related: West Ham’s Tameka Yallop: ‘I was trapped in my own bubble with a baby’

3.38am GMT
Rising star Mary Fowler will be the centre of attention for the Matildas. Photograph: Dan Himbrechts/AAP

3.35am GMT

If you’re not into this you’ve got a hole where your heart should be. Viva Le Wiggles.

3.26am GMT

Conditions are grim in Sydney. It’s unseasonably cool, there is a howling gale blowing from the south, and after days of rain there are still showers blowing through, although they should diminish as the afternoon wears on.

Related: Australia ‘primed for flooding’: back-to-back La Niñas points to summer of wet weather perils

3.15am GMT


It’s an unfamiliar USWNT XI with five starters registering seven caps or fewer, including two of the front three, as well as debutant goalkeeper Casey Murphy. Lindsey Horan and Tierna Davidson are the only players in this Starting XI who started in the most recent matchup with the Matildas in the Olympic Bronze Medal Match.

  • The average age of the starting XI is 26, making it youngest lineup to take the field for the USWNT since April 2018.
  • This will be the first time since April 2013 that the USA has deployed a starting XI with every player under the age of 30.

Updated at 3.18am GMT

3.10am GMT

Australia XI

Headline news for Australia is Sam Kerr has been passed fit after doubts on her participation, 17-year-old Jessica Nash makes her starting debut, and Tameka Yallop captains the side on the occasion of her 100th cap. No Kennedy or Polkinghorne means a reshuffle at the heart of defence.

“It’s been a little bit of a challenging camp, to be honest,” Tony Gustavsson said. “Almost half of the team arriving late on Tuesday, even some at midnight, so we lost two to three trainings at the beginning of the camp here.

“But I also want to be clear, like I said in the Olympics, remember that tournament mode is not just about a starting lineup here. It’s about the finishing line up as well.”

Updated at 3.19am GMT

3.02am GMT


Hello everybody and welcome to live coverage of Australia’s friendly against the USA from Sydney. Kick-off is 3.00pm.

“This isolated game is kind of once in a lifetime opportunity to handle the game similar to a World Cup feeling,” Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson said about the clash against the side five years with as an assistant coach. And although it’s a twice in a lifetime opportunity (with the second half of the double-header in Newcastle on Tuesday) there is no escaping the fact that these powerful nations are meeting as part of their preparations for the 2023 World Cup.

For Australia it’s a chance to measure their progress against the preeminent side in international football for over a generation. For the US it’s an opportunity to familiarise themselves with conditions they will face when the World Cup is hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 18 months or so.

“This could not be a better dress rehearsal for a World Cup final and we are going to treat it in the same way,” Gustavsson said. “From when we arrive to those match days with what we hope will be record crowds, this is our chance to prepare for the big moments that want to be a part of in 2023.”

Covid-19 had prevented the Matildas from appearing on home soil for a 19-month period until they played Brazil twice in Sydney’s west earlier this month. The two games at CommBank Stadium drew crowds of 15,000 and 12,000 and, with restrictions further easing in New South Wales and stadium capacity limits lifted, FA is pushing to surpass the record of 33,000 for a Matildas game in Australia – set during the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. Although torrential rain and flood warnings in NSW have dampened expectations.

As for the match-up, neither side will be at full-strength. The only question is how experimentally both coaches approach the contest. “Without revealing too much with names and such, it’s actually been about 20 to 30% of the roster that haven’t been able to train Thursday, Friday, and we do have some question marks for the game tomorrow,” Gustavsson revealed yesterday.

Related: Sam Kerr trains separately as depleted Matildas prepare for USA test

For Vlatko Andonovski, it’s a case of doing without a host of names that have dominated the international scene in recent years. From the side that took on South Korea in October, four players with over 100 caps have not made the trip to Australia, including superstars Megan Rapinoe, Alex Lloyd, and Tobin Heath, while those matches also brought the curtain down on the international career of Carli Lloyd.

Related: Carli Lloyd calls it a career as USA women silence South Korea in friendly

Other centurions like Christen Press, Julie Ertz, and Crystal Dunn are also not among the touring party, so it will be an opportunity for the next wave of US internationals to prove their worth, especially in attack.

The last time these sides met the outcome was an end-to-end 4-3 extravaganza for the Olympic bronze medal. Something similar this afternoon would do nicely to grow the hype around World Cup 2023.

I’ll be back with more shortly, but if you would like to join in, you can reach me by email or Twitter ( @JPHowcroft ).

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