Matildas exit FIFA Women’s World Cup™ in penalty shootout loss to Norway

The Matildas’ FIFA Women’s World Cup™ France 2019 dream was ended in a heart-breaking penalty shootout defeat against Norway in the Round of 16.

Elise Kellond-Knight scored directly from a corner to level the scores at 1-1 on 83 minutes after Isabell Herlovsen’s 31st-minute strike had opening the scoring at the Stade Allianz Riviera in Nice.

Lydia Williams’ goalkeeping heroics kept the Matildas in contention in the first-half of extra-time before Alanna Kennedy was shown a red card on 104 minutes.

The Scandinavians twice hit the woodwork as Australia’s 10 players battled through to a penalty shootout, but misses from Kerr and Emily Gielnik cost the Matildas as Norway ran out 4-1 winners.

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Head coach Ante Milicic mades four changes from the 4-1 win against Jamaica and Australia almost made a dream start when Kerr collected the returning Caitlin Foord’s pass and fired narrowly wide with only 25 seconds on the clock.

Hayley Raso tested keeper Ingrid Hjelmseth from close range as the Matildas dominated the opening exchanges, with Lydia Williams making her first save in the 18th minute when the Australia number one parried Caroline Graham Hansen’s drilled shot to safety.

The Grasshoppers settled into the game as the half progressed and, moments after Kerr threatened at one end, Karina Saevik’s precise through ball split Alanna Kennedy and Steph Catley and Herlovsen added a composed finish. 

Graham Hansen was causing problems and Ingrid Moe Wold struck an effort over as the Matildas weathered the storm. With half-time approaching, Australia were awarded a penalty for handball against Maria Thorisdóttir but, as Kerr prepared to take the spot-kick, the decision was overturned by German referee Riem Hussein following a VAR review.

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A slick combination between Raso and Kerr saw Raso fire wide and Caitlin Foord prodded Chloe Logarzo’s pin-point delivery into the side netting as the Matildas started the second half strongly.

Kerr thought she had levelled the scores as the clock ticked past the hour mark but an offside flag brought her celebrations to an abrupt end as Australia continued to pile forward.

The moment finally arrived when Kellond-Knight’s in-swinging corner flew through a cluster of bodies and nestled in the corner on 83 minutes, before Graham Hansen’s long-range effort cannoned back off the post in the dying seconds to force extra-time.

Williams produced a pair of outstanding saves in the first half of extra time to deny Vilde Bøe Risa and Graham Hansen, but Kennedy’s straight red card for pulling Lisa-Marie Karlseng Utland to the ground made the Matildas’ task even harder.

Bøe Risa’s spectacular attempt rattled the crossbar as Australia’s 10 players battled through to penalties. After Sam Kerr shot over, Gielnik's attempt was saved as Norway surged to a 3-0 advantage.

Steph Catley scored for Australia, but Ingrid Engen netted the decisive spot-kick to send Norway through to the Quarter-Finals as the Matildas were knocked out of the FIFA Women’s World Cup™. 

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