Sam Kerr inspires Matildas to victory over England

Sam Kerr hopes Australia has woken up delighted to the news that her Matildas, inspired by her own striking brilliance, have earned a sensational 2-0 triumph over England.

Apr 12, 2023, updated Apr 12, 2023
Sam Kerr celebrates scoring Australia's  first goal at Brentford overnight.  Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Sam Kerr celebrates scoring Australia's first goal at Brentford overnight. Photo: Adam Davy/PA Wire

Demonstrating once again why she’s the deadliest striker in the women’s game at Brentford’s Gtech Community Stadium on Tuesday, the Australian captain pounced on a first-half error by England skipper Leah Williamson to put the Matildas ahead.

Then she turned provider after the break, her pinpoint cross being headed home by Charlotte Grant, via a deflection off the hapless Williamson, to hand the European champions their first defeat in 31 matches.

“Hopefully, waking up in Australia this morning, there’s a few happy Aussies,” smiled Kerr.

It was an extraordinary result, carved out against all the odds by an injury-hit team on a miserable, rain-drenched night in London which perfectly demonstrated coach Tony Gustavsson’s belief that the Matildas need fear no-one at their home World Cup in July.

“It does a lot (for the game back home),” said Kerr.

“England are such a footballing nation that when people wake up and see the Matildas have beaten them, it’s big news.”

What an overseas send-off this was – and it was no absolutely no fluke.

From the outset, Kerr’s team, faced by an overwhelmingly partisan full house of 14,500, were as aggressive, in-your-face and committed as Gustavsson had promised they would be.

“Their combination of head and heart makes me really proud,” said the Swede.

With their punch and invention on the counter-attack, his side consistently discomfited a team who hadn’t lost a match for two years and had just won the Finalissima against South American champions Brazil.

Indeed, Australia might have won even more convincingly as England’s rearguard were stretched time and again by their sharpness on the counter-attack, with substitute Cortnee Vine, who’d come on for the injured Tameka Yallop in the first half, excelling.

Kerr was magnificent, leading from the front and ending worries over her fitness to spearhead their challenge.

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The Chelsea ace was pronounced fit to lead the line in a starting line-up that showed two changes from the team beaten 1-0 by Scotland on Friday.

Kerr said she hadn’t been carrying an injury but was having her playing load managed by both Chelsea and the national team.

With the rain driving down, the Matildas, as Gustavsson suggested they would, never looked remotely overawed, even though they were without 10 important players.

Still it was against the run of play that Kerr struck in typically predatory fashion.

She had barely had a sniff for the first 32 minutes but when Clare Hunt hoofed a long ball forward, she was on to her opposing captain Williamson like a hawk, shadowing her and anticipating that she’d try to nod the ball back to her keeper Mary Earps.

She did just that, but too weakly and Kerr diverted it expertly first-time over the advancing keeper for the 63rd goal of her storied international career.

England were stunned, but though they redoubled their pressure, Australia’s back four remained steadfast through to the break, despite the dispiriting sight of a limping Yallop being helped off the pitch after she came off worse in a challenge with Kelly.

Australia could have nicked a second with a couple of breaks early in the second half which ended with Kerr missing two opportunities she’d normally gobble up.

England, while enjoying the lion’s share of possession, created only one truly glaring chance which sub Rachel Daley headed wide, but Clare Polkinghorne and Hunt, absolute rocks in central defence, ensured there was no way through for the deflated home attack.


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