Australia

Matildas win Tokyo Olympics opener against New Zealand after top-ranked Americans thumped by Sweden

The Matildas have started their Olympics campaign with a classy 2-1 win over New Zealand, after the US Women’s National Team went down 3-0 to Sweden.

Wednesday’s results put Sweden to the top of Group G, the most stacked of the women’s side of the football draw, with Australia second, New Zealand third and the World Cup winners and top-ranked Americans last.

After some uninspiring results in the lead-up, the Matildas put on a strong display to open their account in Tokyo, riding a hot start to finish with the win.

Both of Australia’s goals came in the first half, through Tameka Yallop and Sam Kerr, with the Football Ferns getting on the board in the 91st minute to set up a tense stoppage time.

The Australian side is ranked ninth in the world but is in the same group as world number one US and fifth-ranked Sweden.(

AP: Ricardo Mazalan

)

The Matildas held on, but the nervous finish was a far cry from their dominant first-half performance.

A 20th-minute defensive error popped up to Kyah Simon, who nodded the ball to Kerr and a neat first touch put Yallop through on goal, with a powerful strike bursting through the hands of New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler.

There would have been mixed emotions back home, with Yallop’s wife, former Football Fern Kirsty Yallop, watching with their new baby, Harley.

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The Matildas then made it 2-0 when Steph Catley’s corner  was perfectly placed for Kerr to jump over Meikayla Moore and head home off the crossbar, ending a five-game goal-scoring drought for the prolific striker.

The Aussies kept pressing, with Catley, Caitlin Foord, Emily van Egmond and Kerr the main threats, while Simon and Foord both had chances to extend the lead in the second half but were denied by Nayler.

New Zealand could, and perhaps should, have netted in the 65th minute on the back of a Lydia Williams error.

The Australian goalkeeper stumbled on the the edge of the box as she tried to usher the ball into her area, but rather than try to slot into the open goal from an extreme angle, New Zealand’s Hannah Wilkinson opted to cross, and Ellie Carpenter got her boot to the ball to clear the danger.

The Ferns finally got one past Williams when sub Gabi Rennie headed in on her Olympic debut.

USWNT stunned by Sweden

US Women's National Team footballer Christen Press touches her forehead with her hand as she walks away from celebrating Swedes.
The USWNT was on a 44-game unbeaten run heading into the Olympics.(

AP: Ricardo Mazalan

)

Earlier, the world number one US Women’s National Team (USWNT) was hammered 3-0 to start their Olympic tournament.

The Americans were on a 44-game unbeaten run heading into Tokyo, with their last loss coming almost exactly two-and-a-half years ago — 3-1 against France on January 20, 2019.

But that record mattered little to the Swedes, ranked fifth in the world, who looked more polished across the park.

Stina Blackstenius scored goals on either side of half-time, before substitute Lina Hurtig headed home a third in the 72nd minute to seal the stunning result.

It was Sweden’s second straight Olympic win over the US, after beating them on penalties in the 2016 quarter-finals to knock them out of the Rio Games.

The top two teams from each of the three groups go through to the quarter-finals, with the two best third-ranked teams also advancing.


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