Kerr at the double as Westfield Matildas take five-goal advantage to Vietnam
Australia will take a five-goal advantage to Quảng Ninh Province for next Wednesday's second leg after defeating Vietnam 5-0 in Newcastle on Friday.
First-half goals from Sam Kerr, Chloe Logarzo and Emily van Egmond helped the Westfield Matildas establish a commanding three-goal lead before Clare Polkinghorne scored a fourth and Kerr a fifth from the penalty spot to secure a confident home leg victory.
In what was the team's first match in Newcastle since November 13, 2018, Ante Milicic's side proved too strong for the nation ranked no. 32 in the world and are now 90 minutes away from booking a ticket to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic games.
The away leg takes place next Wednesday, 11 March 2020, and should Australia qualify, they will join host nation Japan and the winner of the other AFC play-off between Korea Republic and China PR at the world footballing showcase in July and August.
Read on for a full re-cap of the match, including video highlights of all the goals.
OLYMPIC QUALIFIER RULES: What Australia needs to qualify for Tokyo 2020
Head Coach Milicic made two changes from the eleven which started Australia's 1-1 draw against China PR on February 13, the team's final 2020 AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament Third Round fixture.
Tameka Yallop made two substitute appearances in the tournament but was stationed in a defensive midfield role next to Emily van Egmond, while Kyah Simon, who finished the Third Round tournament with two goals and two assists, took up a role behind a three-pronged strike force of Caitlin Foord, Sam Kerr and Chloe Logarzo. Elise Kellond-Knight and Hayley Raso were the two who dropped to the bench.
Kerr opens scoring as Australia dominate
A packed five-player Vietnam defence - with an old-fashioned sweeper patrolling behind it - made a fortress of red for Australia to break down in Newcastle but nerves were settled inside the opening 10 minutes.
Having seen her initial cross blocked by the Vietnam defender, Ellie Carpenter whipped in a superb cross for Kerr to plant a bullet header past Vietnam goalkeeper Tran Thi Kim Thanh.
That was the Australian captain's 40th goal in Green and Gold, and one which saw her close in on Kate Gill (41) and Lisa De Vanna (47).
Logarzo converts for two-nil
The Westfield Matildas continued to ask all the questions after breaking the deadlock and after van Egmond flashed a header wide of Kim Thanh's goal, Logarzo doubled the advantage.
Foord's cross was flicked on by van Egmond, and the Bristol City player was first to react and apply a smooth finish on the half-volley for a two-goal buffer.
Vietnam issued a reminder of their set-piece threat when Nguyen Thi Bich Thuy's free-kick whistled past Lydia Williams after Carpenter's foul on Ngan Thi Van Su, and the Westfield Matildas were denied in a goalmouth scramble when Kim Thanh and defender Luong Thi Thu Thuong kept out Foord and Simon from close range.
Van Egmond nets third on Newcastle return
However, the visitors could not keep Australia at bay for long, and it was hometown girl van Egmond who headed in the Westfield Matildas' third. Catley's cross was met by the Novocastrian at the near post and via a deflection off Tran Thi Phuong Thao, the Westfield Matildas had three.
Foord could have added a fourth after latching on to Kennedy's clever, incisive pass from deep but for some brave goalkeeping from Kim Thanh, as Australia entered the half time break with a handsome three goal advantage.
Vietnam rally but Polkinghorne adds number four
Kim Thanh denied van Egmond with a super close-range stop five minutes into the second half. Foord cut inside from the byline and found the Melbourne City star's late run into the box but her volley was parried, and the follow up hit the outside of the post.
Vietnam steadied the flow of Australian pressure and Hayley Raso was introduced on the hour mark to inject a fresh dimension of pace to the Westfield Matildas attack.
But it was in fact veteran centre half Polkinghorne who gave Australia their fourth. The two-time Olympian was on hand to score her 10th goal for the Westfield Matildas after a cleverly worked corner routine involving Catley and van Egmond saw the former's cutback tucked away from close-range.
Kerr cool from the spot for five
Elise Kellond-Knight came in for Yallop as Nguyen Thi Van gave the Westfield Matildas backline a scare on 70 minutes, but Australia inflicted another blow when Raso drew a foul from Tran Thi Phuong Thao soon after.
Kerr stepped up the spot and smashed the penalty in off the post and was swiftly replaced by Bayern Munich forward Emily Gielnik, who came close to adding a sixth seconds after coming on but could not bury Logarzo's headed pass.
Foord also hit the post after rounding Kim Thanh in a spell of late Australian pressure. All eyes are now on Wednesday's second leg.
Be sure to follow all the reaction - including player interviews and analysis - from tonight's win over Vietnam on the official Matildas website.
Opta post-match facts
- Australia have won each of their last seven women’s international fixtures against Vietnam, keeping a clean sheet on each occasion and averaging just under six goals scored per game (5.9).
- Australia have won their last three women’s internationals in succession at McDonald Jones Stadium, scoring exactly five goals in each of the last two matches in that span (5-0 v Chile, 13 November 2018).
- Australia had 28 total shots in this match; there have been only two instances in this Asia Olympic Women’s Qualifying Tournament where a team has had more shots in a game (38 – Australia v Thailand, 10 February 2020 and 31 – Korea Republic v Myanmar, 3 February 2020).
- Caitlin Foord created six scoring chances in this match, only one player has created more in a game of this Asia Olympic Women’s Qualifying Tournament (Emily van Egmond – 8 v Thailand, 10 February 2020).
- Sam Kerr has scored five goals in her last three matches for Australia at McDonald Jones Stadium.
HOME AND AWAY TIE RULES: What Australia needs to qualify for Tokyo 2020
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2020 GUIDE: Key dates to add to your calendar
Vietnam v Australia (Away Leg)
Date: Wednesday, 11 March 2020
Kick-off: 6.00pm local; 10pm AEDT
Venue: Cẩm Phả Stadium, Cẩm Phả, Quảng Ninh Province, Vietnam
United States of America v Australia
Date: Friday, 10 April 2020 (local time)
Kick-off: To be confirmed
Venue: Rio Tinto Stadium, Sandy, Utah, USA
Canada v Australia
Date: Tuesday, 14 April 2020 (local time)
Kick-off: 7.30pm – 12.30pm Wednesday, 15 April 2020
Venue: BC Place, Vancouver, Canada