van Egmond hat-trick guides dominant Westfield Matildas to win over Thailand
A maiden Westfield Matildas hat-trick for Emily van Egmond has taken Australia another step closer to the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games following a commanding 6-0 win over Thailand.
Van Egmond struck twice in the first half to get the ball rolling at Campbelltown Stadium, before sealing her treble in a rampaging second half that saw Kyah Simon add a brace and Hayley Raso also chime in with her second goal of the tournament.
At the other end of the pitch, Thailand barely threatened as the Westfield Matildas secured a second consecutive clean sheet and allowed their opponents just a single shot at goal throughout the match.
Now with 13 goals unanswered in the tournament, the result lifts the Westfield Matildas back to the top of Group B in the AFC Olympic Games Qualifiers ahead of China on goal difference, who they face next on Thursday night.
The Westfield Matilda’s attacking intent was evident from the kick-off but Ante Milicic’s side had to wait until the 20th minute for their first clear shot on goal when van Egmond volleyed wide from an Ellie Carpenter cross.
Soon the chances started piling up as Caitlin Foord volleyed wide at the near post, before van Egmond drew a low save as she sought to pick out the bottom corner of the goal.
The pressure continued to mount on the Thai goal but the visitors remained stubborn as they scrambled away repeated forays from the green and gold – including turning the ball onto their own post - as the contest was contested almost exclusively in the Thai half.
Thailand continued to chance their luck as Emily Gielnik threatened twice more before the break – dragging a shot wide of the near post after skirting her marker on 37 minutes before firing high on 41 minutes after again finding space in the box.
However, they could only hold out so long as the Westfield Matildas found their reward through van Egmond in the 45th minute with a composed volleyed finish on the outside of the boot from another dangerous Carpenter cross.
From thereon the floodgates were opened as Foord saw her strike hit the post and Kyah Simon shot wide on a tight angle before van Egmond struck again three minutes into injury time to double the advantage - the assist again coming from the vision and delivery of Carpenter.
Momentum remained firmly with the hosts in the second stanza as Jenna McCormick’s header drew a save and Katrina Gorry saw a close range effort smothered inside the opening minutes.
Foord remained a menace as the go to outlet up front but was denied by desperate Thai defending on repeated occasions before the introduction of Sam Kerr and Hayley Raso on the hour.
But still it was van Egmond that came closest – sending a sublime volley into the cross bar in the 63rd minute – before Simon saw a shot curl just wide shortly after.
Simon soon had her goal, turning in a cross from Karly Roestbakken at close range in the 66th minute to move to seventh on the Westfield Matildas all-time goal scoring chart and put the match beyond Thailand's reach.
However, seeking to increase their goal difference and return to the top of Group B in the AFC Olympic Games Qualifying Tournamnet, the Westfield Matildas goals kept coming as Kerr’s deft squaring touch teed up van Egmond for her hat-trick in the 69th minute.
The Chelsea star, who has never scored against Thailand, continued to prove selfless as she again delivered the assist from a promising position to set-up Raso for a first-time finish just a minute later.
Van Egmond turned provider for the next on 72 minutes – adding to her trio of assists in the opening match – with a floated cross into the box that was dispatched with a composed header from Simon.
Foord looked to get in on the act but again was denied by the woodwork following a penalty box scramble on 76 minutes, while Raso also threatened to add to her haul shortly after but pushed a strike across the face of goal.
The Westfield Matildas continued to push for more in the closing minutes, however, Thailand survived a series of scrambles before the unlucky Foord struck the post for the third time in injury time with a firm, angled strike.
Milicic's side return to action against China PR on Thursday, February 13 (kick off 7.30pm AEDT) at Western Sydney Stadium, Parramatta.
The top two teams in Group B will advance to a winner-takes-all, two-legged playoff – set to be played in March – for a spot in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s football competition.
All three of the Westfield Matildas matches in this stage of Olympic Games qualifying will be broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, and the My Football Live App, before being shown ABC TV on a delay.
Match Schedule – Women’s Olympic Football Tournament Qualifiers – Group B
Matchday 4 – Thursday 13 February 2020
Western Sydney Stadium, Parramatta
- Australia v China PR – 7.30pm AEDT
Broadcast: Live on FOX SPORTS, Kayo Sports, and the My Football Live App – delayed on ABC TV.
International viewers - Live streamed via My Football YouTube channel