Emily van Egmond and the Matildas have started their 2019 Women’s World Cup campaign with heartbreak, after Barbara Bonansea netted her second of the contest in the 95th minute to score Italy a 2-1 victory over the Australians in Valenciennes.
Sam Kerr had opened the scoring for the clash, missing a penalty kick from the spot before knocking home the loose ball off the rebound. Bonansea levelled the score in the 56th minute, pouncing on a major mistake by Clare Polkinghorne at the back to slot Italy’s first home in the second half. It proved critical in Australia’s loss.
Overall, the Matildas looked lost at sea despite being the favourites in the clash. Chances for Kerr, mainly created by wingbacks Ellie Carpenter and Steph Catley, were few and far behind, and the Australians couldn’t make their opportunities matter.
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Newcastle’s Van Egmond, who played as a singular defensive pivot at the midfield base, struggled to keep posession for the side early. After finding her rhythm, however, the Matildas No.10 took control of the midfield battle, creating a few late chances.
“When we played our football we looked decent, but it was only in patches,” Aussie coach Ante Milicic said. “We need to be a little bit more brave and composed on the ball. We need to have a better understanding when to drop and when to stay high.”
Newcastle’s Gema Simon, who plays for South Wallsend in the Women’s Premier League, and represents the Jets in the W-League, was an unused substitute in the loss.
POOL C STANDINGS: Brazil, Italy (3), Australia, Jamaica (0).