The Westfield Matildas will have the chance to defend their AFC Women's Asian Cup title following a dominant 2-1 Semi Final win over Korea Republic.
The Westfield Matildas will have the chance to defend their AFC Women's Asian Cup title following a dominant and deserved 2-1 Semi Final win over Korea Republic on Thursday night at Ho Chi Minh-s Thong Nhat Stadium.
Making her 46th international appearance for her country, it was Elise Kellond-Knight's first ever Matildas goal that proved the winner after Korea Republic striker Park Eun Sun's penalty had earlier cancelled out Katrina Gorry's screamer that initially opened the scoring two minutes into the second half.
There were winners right across the field for the Westfield Matildas, none more so than Lisa De Vanna who copped an accidental stray elbow to the nose from Park Eun Sun in the opening ten minutes. After getting bandaged up, she bravely played on and was a constant in the majority of Australia-s attacking forays.
The Matildas- fourth victory from four AFC Women-s Asian Cup matches against Korea Republic means they will meet Japan in the Final on Sunday night after the World Champions accounted for China 2-1 in the final minute of extra time in the other Semi Final. It will be the second time Australia and Japan will face off in the tournament after they played out an intriguing 2-2 draw in the opening match of the Group Stage.
Westfield Matildas Interim Head Coach Alen Stajcic was understandably elated with all of his players and the approach they took into and throughout the contest to take the game up to their opponents who had yet to concede a goal in the tournament.
“We-ve got so many good attacking players and we saw that tonight. We created nine or ten really good chances, we only scored two but I thought we dominated the majority of the game, I thought we dominated the chances and I think we thoroughly deserved the win,” Stajcic said.
“We put them (Korea Republic) under so much pressure in midfield that we just didn-t let them play, and that-s how we-re going to play…if teams are going to beat us they-re going to have to beat us with good skill and they-re going to have to be able to play under pressure.
“I-m extremely proud of the group. They worked so hard, they were disciplined, they attacked well, they were positive the whole game, even after the penalty they just got on with it and didn-t sit back and wait at 1-1, we wanted to go out and win the game and I said that would be our philosophy, we-re going to go out and try to win games rather than sit back and try not to lose.”
The Westfield Matildas made a fast start, their intentions clear as De Vanna darted down the left and just failed to find Michelle Heyman in the box inside the first minute. Heyman then did well to send a ball in from the right across the goal face but there was no one in an Australian shirt on the end of it.
Without absent playmaker Ji So Yun, who had returned to her club side, Korea-s strategy was clear as they defended deep and when not in possession and then tried to catch the Matildas out quickly on the counter.
In form goalkeeper Lydia Williams produced a brilliant point blank save from Yoo Young A in the 17th minute to keep the Matildas on level terms before De Vanna and fellow winger Caitlin Foord forced some desperate defending from the Korean defence with their pace and guile.
Unable to break through in the opening half, it was Gorry who came up with something special to break the deadlock, her third goal of the tournament another goal of the tournament contender as she struck a 20 metre rocket into the top corner giving Korean keeper Kim Jung Mi no chance.
However, the lead did not last long as Korea were the benefactors of a questionable penalty decision as Heyman was adjudged to have brought down Kim Narae despite minimal contact. Williams guessed the right way but she could not keep out Park Eun Sun-s resultant spot kick.
In the 71st minute Heyman went close to restoring the lead as she watched her header from a pinpoint Gorry cross hit the bar, the Matildas- composure having returned after the earlier setback with central defensive pairing Clare Polkinghorne and Laura Alleway plus Teigen Allen and Steph Catley providing stout resilience and calmness under pressure at the back.
The defining moment came after De Vanna, pinned up in the right attacking corner, did superbly to hold onto possession and draw a foul with three defenders around her.
From the ensuing set piece, Kellond-Knight-s tantalising left footed in swinger managed, thanks largely to substitute Samantha Kerr-s near post run, to elude everyone including Kim Jung Mi and sneak inside the far post to put the Matildas back in front.
Kerr produced a stunning finish off a superb counter attack from De Vanna in the 87th minute that would have well and truly decided the result but the referee assistant-s flag was raised for offside.
But in the end it did mattered little as the Matildas held on for the four minutes of stoppage time to move into the Final to the sound of ‘Waltzing Matilda- being sung by the vocal Australian contingent in the crowd after the final whistle.
Match Details Korea Republic 1 (Park Eun Sun 53- (pen)) Westfield Matildas 2 (Gorry 47-, Kellond-Knight 77-) Referee: Rita Binti Gani (Malaysia) Crowd: 700 @ Thong Nhat Stadium, Ho Chi Minh
Korea Republic starting line-up: 18.Kim Jung Mi (gk), 5.Kim Do Yeon, 6.Lim Seon Joo (23.Ahn Hye In 26-), 7.Jeon Ga Eul, 8.Cho So Hyun, 9.Park Eun Sun, 10.Ji So Yun, 12.Yoo Young A, 14.Kim Narae (13.Kwon Hah Nul 63-), 17.Yeo Minji (15.Park Hee Young 80-), 19.Song Su Ran, 20.Kim Hye Ri Substitutes not used: 1.Jun Min Kyung (gk), 2.Seo Hyunsook, 3.Lee Eun Mi, 4.Eo Hee Jin, 11.Kim Soo Yun, 16.Lee Youngju, 21.Min Yukyeong (gk), 22.Lee Sodam Yellow cards: Kim Jung Mi 68- Red cards: Nil
Westfield Matildas starting line-up: 18.Lydia WILLIAMS (gk), 2.Teigen ALLEN, 4.Clare POLKINGHORNE (c), 5.Laura ALLEWAY, 8.Elise KELLOND-KNIGHT, 9.Caitlin FOORD (20.Samantha KERR 74-), 10.Emily VAN EGMOND (13.Tameka BUTT 90+2-), 11.Lisa DE VANNA, 16.Stephanie CATLEY, 19.Katrina GORRY, 23.Michelle HEYMAN (12.Kate GILL 85-) Substitutes not used: 1.Brianna DAVEY (gk), 3.Kim CARROLL, 6.Leena KHAMIS, 7.Hayley RASO, 14.Alanna KENNEDY, 15.Nicola BOLGER, 17.Teresa POLIAS, 21.Casey DUMONT (gk), 22.Ashleigh SYKES, 24.Emma CHECKER Yellow cards: Nil Red cards: Nil