CommBank Matildas overcome Danes in 3-1 victory
The CommBank Matildas secured their first victory against European opposition since 2018, and their first-ever victory over Denmark, overcoming the Danes 3-1 in Viborg overnight.
A brace to Caitlin Foord and a wonder strike from Katrina Gorry saw the Australians stage a rousing second-half comeback to reward fans who rose in the wee hours of the morning.
The game saw the widely expected return of Sam Kerr to the starting line-up. What surprised many, however, was the change that this precipitated – Kerr’s inclusion was at the expense of Mary Fowler. This meant that coach Tony Gustavsson opted for a 4-4-2 formation, with Kerr and Cortnee Vine up front, interchanging at times with Caitlin Foord as well.
The opposition had a number of changes to their best eleven, coach Lars Sondergaard experimenting with his team in their only game of the international window. Most notably, Sam Kerr’s Chelsea teammate Pernille Harder was left on the bench until she was subbed in midway through the second half.
The CommBank Matildas looked to start on the front foot, but fell victim to the Danes in transition almost immediately. The players barely had a chance to adjust to the new system before Denmark were in front via a fantastic finish from the Everton midfielder Karen Holmgaard in the first minute of the game.
The goal was a blow that would dictate the rest of the first half. The CommBank Matildas had the better of the Danes in terms of shots and attacking threat but were unable to find the final ball that was required to create clear-cut chances. Vine looked a constant threat, as did Foord, but decision-making in the final third was lacking.
The home side had a number of chances to double their lead. In the 37th minute, Sam Kerr turned defender as she was forced to clear a Danish corner off the goal line. Australian hearts were in mouths as halftime approached, a deflected shot from Sofie Bredgaard ricocheting off the crossbar as goalkeeper Teagan Micah could only watch. In the end, the half ended with the women in red only one goal in the lead.
A noticeable change from the game against South Africa was the deployment of Steph Catley as a more traditional, conservative full back. She was still able to have an influence over the game, but her recovery pace in the back line meant that Australia was perhaps less vulnerable against the Danish counterattacking threat than they otherwise would have been.
The second half started much as the first half ended, with the Australians knocking on the door of the Danish goal but being unable to convert. It looked for a moment as if the attacking endeavours from the CommBank Matildas would be left unrewarded – that sinking feeling that football fans are so uniquely familiar with was only exacerbated by the introduction of Pernille Harder in the 61st minute.
However, that sinking feeling had not accounted for the goalscoring form of Caitlin Foord. Driving in from the right and with a quick drop of the shoulder, Foord did what she does so well, burning her defenders and shooting with her left foot. Perhaps there was a bit of luck involved – there was a significant deflection taken from Danish captain Simone Boye Sorensen – but fortune favours the brave, and the CommBank Matildas were back level.
The equaliser seemed to awaken something in the home side. Pushing forward in transition once more, they had their best chance of the second half as Janni Thomsen streamed forward after a break. Thankfully for the CommBank Matildas, she blasted her shot over the crossbar.
With fifteen minutes to go, Racing Louisville and former Melbourne Victory championship midfielder Alex Chidiac was substituted onto the field. Her endeavour and energy brought immediate reward. It was her pressure that forced a turnover that found the feet of Katrina Gorry well outside the penalty area. Gorry unleashed a shot, her wonder strike nestling into the top of the Danish net to give the CommBank Matildas the lead for the first time.
The Australians took full advantage of the disorganisation of Denmark after the goal. Kyra Cooney-Cross embarked on a driving run straight from kickoff, her pass finding the feet of Caitlin Foord who finished with aplomb past Danish goalkeeper Lene Christensen. In a dizzying spell of merely nine minutes, the women in green shorts went from staring down the barrel of an unlucky 1-0 defeat to riding high on a 3-1 lead.
The two-goal buffer set up a confidence-boosting victory for the CommBank Matildas who finish the October window with a perfect record and a fantastic platform heading into their final home games of 2022 next month.
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