The Matildas have started their preparation for the Olympics in style with a 2-0 friendly win over New Zealand at Morshead Park in Ballarat on Saturday afternoon.
It was the first time the national women’s team had played in Victoria for 10 years as fifth-ranked Australia disposed of 16th-ranked New Zealand with Caitlin Foord putting on a footballing masterclass.
Australia hit the front foot early in windy and overcast conditions and the Kiwis struggled to get it out of their own half.
The dominance paid dividends in the fifth minute as Foord’s through ball on the left evaded everyone including goalkeeper Erin Naylor to end up in the bottom right of the net.
It could have been two goals for the Matildas in the first 10 minutes, captain Lisa De Vanna forced a save from Naylor and the follow up by Michelle Heyman was called a foul by referee Yamashita Yoshimi.
The Football Ferns were restricted to long balls or shots outside the box, but on the other end Chloe Logarzo nearly got herself on the scoresheet with her long shot tipped over the crossbar by Naylor.
As the game progressed New Zealand got back into it and regained composure, settling play down in midfield.
On the brink of half-time Logarzo’s corner caused pandemonium in the box with a goalmouth scramble. The ball eventually landed to Heyman with a clear cut chance, but her shot hit the crossbar.
It only took six minutes into the second half for the Matildas to double the lead courtesy of Foord once again with a curling finish.
In the 57th minute Foord almost claimed a hat-trick, but was parried by Naylor. Ria Percival was able to clear it before the Perth Glory striker could have a second bite of the cherry.
Just over the hour mark Heyman did well to set up Logarzo straight in front of goal, but she made a meal of it.
In the final half hour, it was firmly the Matildas in full control with the Kiwis withstanding constant attacks from Australia. In the last minute, Foord’s tee up to Butt nearly put the cherry on the cake, but again Naylor came to the rescue.
Finishing 2-0 in front of 4371 fans, the visitors were outplayed, but have the chance to redeem themselves as they go up against the Australians once again in the lead up to the Socceroos-Greece clash at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.comments