The Matildas’ defensive frailties were worryingly exposed yet again as Ireland flipped the script in Sam Kerr’s 100th appearance.
Sam Kerr’s 100th game for the Matildas went completely off-script as Australia’s defensive woes were exposed yet again against Ireland.
The Irish put a horror streak of seven straight losses to bed as they beat the Matildas 3-2 at Tallaght Stadium in Dublin.
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Kerr, who was coming off a stellar showing at the Olympics, was suffocated by a feisty Irish backline as they held their own against the fancied Matildas team in an end-to-end affair.
The defeat to Ireland is the seventh time in 12 matches the Matildas have conceded three goals or more since Tony Gustavsson took over from Ante Milicic as coach.
After their shaky backline performances in Tokyo, the Matildas did little to allay fears about their defensive quality as they found themselves down a goal after just three minutes. Irish debutant Lucy Quinn opened the scoring with a classy free-kick that hit the post and rebounded in off Australian goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold.
Quinn’s goal came just after Ireland had a claim for a penalty, when a crossed whipped in from the right wing appeared to hit Chloe Logarzo’s arm, but the referee waved away Irish appeals.
For Australia, they did have one shining light in the form of 18-year-old Mary Fowler as she bagged a double against her father’s country of birth.
Fowler levelled the scores in the 14th minute when she fizzed a shot at Courtney Brosnan, as the ball cannoned off her leg and found the back of the net.
The young star bailed Australia out yet again when her left-footed strike from distance flew off the leg of Irish defender Savannah McCarthy and past a helpless Brosnan.
Fowler’s second arrived in first-half stoppage time after Denise O’Sullivan scored for the home side when her strike deflected off Kyra Cooney-Cross and into the back of the net.
Ireland yet again found themselves in the lead for the third time early in the second half, when defender Louise Quinn thumped a header off a corner past a sprawling Lydia Williams.
Australia 2 defeated by Ireland 3 at Tallaght Stadium, Dublin
Australia: Mackenzie Arnold (Lydia Williams, 45’), Courtney Nevin (Angie Beard, 67’), Clare Polkinghorne, Alanna Kennedy (Emma Checker, 45’), Steph Catley, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Chloe Logarzo (Clare Wheeler, 53’), Tameka Yallop (Charlotte Grant, 67’), Mary Fowler, Sam Kerr, Emily Gielnik.
Ireland: Courtney Brosnan, Aine O’Gorman, Niamh Fahey, Louise Quinn, Savannah McCarthy, Katie McCabe, Jamie Finn (Diane Caldwell, 90’), Denise O’Sullivan, Amber Barrett (Niamh Farrelly, 60’), Lucy Quinn (Emily Whelan, 71’), Heather Payne (Leanne Kiernan, 90’)