Great Escape: The Matildas Score Two Goals in a Remarkable Comeback Against New Zealand

On Friday night in Townsville, the Matildas scored two goals in each half to beat a stubborn New Zealand 2-1.

The Football Ferns appeared to have beaten Australia for the first time since 1994, only for van Egmond and Kerr to score in injury time to shatter the dreams of New Zealand’s fans.

Australia’s women’s team, who hasn’t played since January’s devastating Asian Cup quarter-final loss, appeared poised to pay the price for a lack of penetration in attack yet again.

Despite creating a slew of opportunities, the Socceroos had nothing to show for their efforts – until the final minutes – against Thailand, who were superior in all departments.

The Football Ferns, on the other hand, seldom threatened in attack and needed an audacious first-half strike from left-back Anna Green to grab a shock early lead.

Green used her magnificent left-footed shot, which caught Australia’s goalkeeper Lydia Williams off her line before flying into the top corner of the goal in the 32nd minute, to put America ahead.

The Matildas had numerous opportunities in the first half, with Katrina Gorry at the helm, creating some spectacular attacks from the midfield base.

However, Victoria Esson’s outstanding goalkeeping and terrible finishing helped the Australians avoid defeat in the first half.

In the opening 20 minutes, Esson denied Hayley Raso and Clare Polkinghorne and Alanna Kennedy, who was hesitant.

She was outstanding in her effort to keep Polkinghorne’s header on target.

However, aside from that, the Matildas were wasteful, with Kerr and Kyah Simon among the players to blame.

In the 27th minute, Kerr fluffed a golden opportunity when, with an open goal in front of her, she missed making a proper connection with the ball after being found at the back post by a Raso cross.

Esson produced another outstanding display in the second half, saving Raso’s shot with a brilliant diving save.

After the woodwork came to Australia’s rescue, with substitute Caitlin Foord – who was making her 100th appearance for the Matildas – crashing a shot into the crossbar in the 60th minute, New Zealand’s defence fell apart.

The Matildas continued to attack, but as the game wore on and they grew more desperate to score, their fear of losing got the best of them – until van Egmond and Kerr produced their decisive heroics.

In the 15th minute, when star midfielder Ria Percival fell to the ground in agony clutching her knee after being stood up by Matildas midfielder Mary Fowler, New Zealand took a severe hit.

Percival was carried off the field by her teammates after sustaining a severe knee injury while playing for Tottenham Hotspur in the WSL, with fears she would miss the rest of the season.