How van Egmond helped Australia break down Vietnam for first leg advantage
There is no doubt about it: Emily van Egmond is in the goal-scoring form of her career for both club and country right now.
The precociously talented 26-year-old has always offered the potential to contribute goals from midfield but never has van Egmond found the net with such ease, regularity and purpose.
She has, as six goals for Melbourne City in the Westfield W-League this season and four for Australia in the 2020 AFC Women's Olympic Qualifying Tournament Third Round demonstrates, clearly honed her finishing ability.
Van Egmond’s late runs into the penalty area and ability to find space in between opposition midfield and defence has been a feature of City’s Premiership-winning swagger during the 2019/20 domestic competition.
Westfield Matildas Head Coach Ante Milicic has encouraged this dimension of van Egmond’s game on the national team arena too.
And, against a stubborn Vietnam defence in Friday night’s first leg in Newcastle, it proved effective in giving Australia the additional attacking player they needed to break the visitors' resistance.
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Vietnam, ranked no. 32 in the world, arrived at McDonald Jones Stadium fielding a five-player defence which at times included a sweeper behind it, in order to restrict opportunities for Sam Kerr to strike from close range.
Although the Chelsea striker and Australia captain foiled that plan initially, heading home Ellie Carpenter’s cross after just nine minutes, it was a strategy that did at times leave Kerr isolated.
Space for Kerr to operate was at a premium – of the eleven starters Milicic fielded, only Lydia Williams (23) had fewer touches than the skipper.
It meant how Australia utilised the speed, intelligent running and delivery of their fullbacks, Steph Catley and Ellie Carpenter, would be particularly important in order to create good chances.
And to this end, van Egmond’s ability to give the Vietnam defence someone else to think about proved essential in all three first half goals, as Milicic’s side established a handy buffer.
As the video above shows, Van Egmond is looming at the back post when Carpenter tees up Kerr for the opening strike, and she ends up with a headed assist after making another back-post run to meet Catley’s delivery on 26 minutes, before Chloe Logarzo slotted home.
The 2019/20 Premiership winner should have found the net on 36 minutes during a hat-trick of chances for Australia, which ultimately finished with van Egmond firing over the bar – but she did get on the score sheet only a minute later by nodding Catley’s cross home after Kerr’s run through the left channel allowed her to dart into the vacant centre forward position.
Having ostensibly played a vital role in all three of Australia’s first half goals by making late runs into the box, van Egmond also played an instrumental part in laying on a simple finish for Clare Polkinghorne in the second half.
A cleverly worked routine with Catley saw van Egmond burst past her marker and, typically, the delivery was right on the money.
Kerr and Foord often grab all the goal-scoring headlines for club and country, but after a hat-trick in Australia’s 6-0 win over Thailand and the all-important stoppage time equaliser against China PR in the Third Round, van Egmond is quickly become one of the most potent and important weapons in the Westfield Matildas arsenal.
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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