Photo credit: Official Matildas Twitter Account (@TheMatildas)

Forward combinations

While Australia has plenty of potent attackers ready at their disposal, recent results against the Netherlands and Italy haven’t been too convincing in that department. This resulted in a host of changes to the starting line-up against Brazil. Emily Gielnik was given her World Cup debut, replacing Hayley Raso on the right wing, while Caitlin Foord moved to the opposite side from attacking midfield.

Gielnik – like Raso in the Italy game – was a bright spark in the front third and provided plenty of opportunities from the get-go. As her defender sat deep, Gielnik had plenty of space and time to create havoc on the right flank. She managed to draw her defender out wide, before sending multiple crosses into the box.

However, arguably the most important change of the game was Foord slotting back into the left wing role. It was evident in the past few matches that she had not been able to play to her full potential, sometimes even going missing during the games.

By putting Foord out wide, Matildas coach Ante Milicic ensured that she was able to combine with Sam Kerr to build lethal attacks. It was a combination that worked extremely well during the recent Cup of Nations tournament.

The pair kept swapping roles throughout the game, switching between winger and striker to change up the attack. This was evident in the buildup to Foord’s goal at the end of the first half. Kerr ran from the left side to meet Gielnik’s cross, forcing Mônica to clear. When Tameka Yallop sent the ball back into the middle, Chloe Logarzo was able to flick the ball on, and Foord finished off the golden opportunity.

A working midfield

The midfielders really clicked together in this game, with Yallop putting in another solid shift and Emily van Egmond looking steadier in her deeper lying role.

Logarzo also returned to the centre of midfield, which proved to be the game changer. She was immense as the engine in the middle of the park, assisted Foord’s strike, and dispatched her own long-range effort for her first World Cup goal.

The Washington Spirit player was everywhere, making runs on and off the ball to break down Brazil’s compact defence and create opportunities. Logarzo was also extremely diligent with her defensive duties, making sure to win every single tackle and challenge.

This all came off the back of her return from an injury sustained in the 2019 W-League Grand Final. Logarzo looks to have regained form, putting in one of her best games in recent years and earning FIFA’s Player of the Match award for a phenomenal performance.

Never Say Die

There was plenty riding on this game, especially after the loss against Italy – the expectations of the nation, critics and fans alike. Everyone knew it was a must-win game, and the Matildas really showed that in the opening 20 minutes – they were in control of the ball and dictated play.

However, at the 38th minute mark, Australia was down by two goals and it looked like the pressure had gotten to the players.

Nevertheless, the Matildas never gave up and never said die. They kept pushing and fighting until the last minute. It was evident throughout the 90 minutes that they were playing for each other, and for the shirts on their backs. They were playing with their hearts on their sleeves, giving it their all and leaving nothing behind.

Just before half time, the first goal came – Foord putting her name down as the first woman to score against Brazil in a World Cup group game in 16 years. The second goal nestled in the back of the net, then the third, completing an astonishing comeback.

Suddenly, the Matildas went from the brink of a potentially disastrous campaign, to becoming only the second nation to win a Women’s World Cup match after being 2-0 down. To top it all off, defeating old foes Brazil, and scoring the highest amount of goals in a World Cup group game against the Canarinhas since 1999.

Never say die.

It’s the phrase on the collar of the jerseys, on the lips of the fans, and in the mind of every Matildas player.

Never say die.