Matildas strong and effective in win over China
By Stephen Webb
WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Sunday, 24 November 2013, 3 pm
Australia 2 (Katrina Gorry 34’, Tameka Butt 39’)
China and Australia have been closely matched in recent years and certainly were so to exciting effect in the first half.
The Matildas were very physical but China’s players also knew how to use their bodies.
Lisa De Vanna drew many fouls as the game wore on but she started out hard and aggressive, defending with such vigour that her first two tackles forced the ball over the sideline, the third a corner and the fourth a free kick.
In the fifth minute the first shot of the game was Australia’s, trickling in to China’s keeper Wang Fei. Three minutes later Yang Li had a break on goal but was offside. Then two good chances for Australia were saved before Lydia Williams made a brave save at the feet of Yang.
De Vanna was spoiled by Wu Haiyan and Michelle Heyman on the loose ball couldn’t evade Wang Shanshan.
China worked the ball in the middle third but, apart from Yang Li, struggled to get behind the Australian backs. In the 17th minute Li Xianglin shot to the right of the Matildas’ goal from 20 metres.
Stephanie Cately put a good ball through for De Vanna but she was closely marked by Wu.
Clare Polkinghorne — very impressive — was forceful challenging on a through ball and Heyman cleaned up Yang, who had dropped well inside China’s half. A Sam Kerr cross from the right was met by a wall of red protecting the Chinese goal box.
In the 23rd minute finally a long ball for De Vanna gave her something to run on to and De Vanna’s cross from the left ran just past the right post.
Straight to the other end and Williams fell, missing the ball, giving Yang a chance to shoot but Williams recovered in time to force Yang to strike into the side netting.
De Vanna was pulled down but referee Fusako Kajiyama — who seemed very tolerant of roughhouse football — didn’t care and the crowd booed its disapproval.
A Kerr cross won the Matildas a corner and in the 32nd minute Williams made a leaping, flapping save, falling backwards and pushing the ball away from goal on a flighted cross from the right.
Wang Shanshan pulled down De Vanna, for which she copped a yellow, but De Vanna, angered, swung her arm at an opponent and also was served with a yellow card. After Australia’s free kick, Katrina-Lee Gorry had a shot blocked but persisted onto the rebound and blasted home from close range, putting the Matildas ahead 1-0.
In the 35th minute De Vanna fed Gorry, who attempted an optimistic shot falling over at the edge of China’s penalty area.
Wang Fei came well out of her area to stop Heyman collecting a through ball and, in the 39th minute, another foul on De Vanna awarded the Matildas another free kick, taken by Gorry. After several headers — Pu Wei, Polkinghorne and Alleway — bouncing the ball across goal from the right, Tameka Butt shot into the roof of the net from a narrow angle on the left: 2-0.
Before the first half ended Williams made a great save on a close range shot by Wang Lisi, De Vanna on a break well within Australia’s half was held with both hands by Li Xianglin (another yellow card), Yang chested down a ball from the right and shot high, and De Vanna seemed to be limping a bit … but still running hard and fast!
De Vanna stayed on for the commencement of the second half but was soon cleaned up again, limping away to cheers from the crowd. Laura Alleway got high to meet the free kick but the ball sailed wide.
Gorry was strong and nimble picking up a loose ball and driving towards the China defence but her shot was soft and left of target.
A shot from Xu Yanlu was blocked by Alleway, then Alleway handballed just outside the Matildas’ penalty area. The free kick drew a great save from Williams.
Australia scrambled away two corners and a cross from the left — Gorry blocking Xu Yanlu on the line and Catley heading clear at the right post — then countered down their own left side through De Vanna, who set up Kerr in the middle. The crowd — well, a vociferous woman behind me — yelled “Shoot!” and Kerr unwisely took her advice and lofted the ball to nowhere worth mentioning. Kerr looked to the stands, probably cursing herself, but I wondered if, in games with small crowds, one screeching woman could lead even a player of Kerr’s calibre to take the wrong option.
A Chinese shot was blocked on the edge of Australia’s penalty area and Pu Wei was strong down the left, delivering for Zhang Rui, who won a corner.
Kerr was running herself into distress but gave a tempting ball for Gorry, who was beaten by Pu.
In the 66th minute Wang Fei made a wonderful right hand diving save to deny a thumping shot from Gorry. A header from Polkinghorne on the corner went just wide.
Gorry cleverly tipped around Pu Wei but Wang Fei came to the edge of her area to stop De Vanna.
Heyman played a good ball through for Kerr, who was just offside.
The Matildas were sitting back a bit now, content to play long balls for the forwards to chase. Kerr crossed and Wang Fei collected.
Wang Shuang beat the offside trap but the through ball she was chasing arrived too close to Williams.
Great vision by one Matilda found Kerr free on the right. Kerr ran in toward the right post, where Wang Fei saved. Kerr pounced on the loose ball but found only the side netting.
Elise Kellond-Knight wrestled an opponent to the ground and received a friendly reprimand from the referee.
In the 79th minute Alleway was smart setting up Heyman, whose half volley flew high and wide. Kerr, still running herself into the ground, continued to deliver crosses and win corners.
Substitute Chloe Logarzo crossed from the left and won a corner. Wang Fei saved a soft effort inside the left post.
Haley Raso received a ball with a chance to run at goal. Her shot was blocked but won a corner. Wang Fei saved under pressure from Polkinghorne.
The last incident of note was Gorry making another run into the China penalty area but lashing her shot wide.
Though the second half was not as keenly contested as the first, it was a fine display from both sides.
After the game, Matildas coach Hesterine de Reus was reportedly happy with her side’s attitude: “They really came to win and they did it. I thought China were great in their short combination play, which gave us some trouble, especially in the beginning, but we kept our areas well and we were really good in our counter-attack.
“They scored two great goals in the first half so I think they were really effective.”
18. Lydia Williams (gk); 16. Steph Catley; 3. Kim Carroll; 4. Clare Polkinghorne; 5. Laura Alleway; 13. Tameka Butt (7. Collette McCallum 76’); 8. Elise Kellond-Knight; 19. Katrina Gorry; 11. Lisa De Vanna (17. Chloe Logarzo 68’); 20. Sam Kerr; 23. Michelle Heyman (9. Hayley Raso 82’)
Subs not used: 21. Eliza Campbell (gk); 10. Emily Van Egmond; 14. Ashleigh Sykes; 22 Nicole Sykes.
Yellow cards: De Vanna 33’
12. Wang Fei (gk); 3. Wang Lingling; 5. Wu Haiyan; 6. Huang Yini; 7. Xu Yanlu (9. Lou Jiahui, 67); 11. Pu Wei; 19. Li Xianglin (10. Li Ying, 81); 20. Yang Li (15. Wang Shuang, 45’); 21. Wang Lisi (27. Zhang Xin, 56’); 23. Wang Shanshan; 25. Zhang Rui (16. Wang Chen, 70).
Subs not used: 1. Zhang Yue (gk); 4. Li Jiayue; 8. Liu Shanshan; 13. Gao Qi; 18. Han Peng; 34. Xue Jiao.
Yellow cards: Wang Shanshan 33’; Li Xianglin 43’;
Referee: Fusako Kajiyama. Assistants: Allyson Flynn, Sarah Ho, Nami Sato.