Matildas into Asian Cup final after Arnold's shootout heroics against Thailand
Matildas Matildas into Asian Cup final after Arnold's shootout heroics against Thailand
- Matildas 2-2 Thailand (3-1 pen)
- Saenkhun OG 17, Kennedy 90; Sungngoen 20, Thongsombut 63
The Matildas needed an injury-time equaliser and penalties to escape from a monumental semi-final scrap with Thailand and reach the Asian Cup final.
Australia stood on the brink of elimination at the end of 90 minutes, trailing the minnows 2-1 after a shambolic display. But Alanna Kennedy equalised in the first minute of added time to tie the game at 2-2 before Mackenzie Arnold saved three penalties in a row in the shootout. Sam Kerr netted the decisive penalty to give Australia a 3-1 win in the shootout and send them into a third-straight continental final.Matildas secure Womenâs World Cup place with draw against Japan Read more
That it took 120 minutes was a testament to Thailand, who saw Wilaiporn Boothduang sent off in the 87th minute but battled on. The absent striker Caitlin Foord, speaking on Fox Sports, said it best when she called the Matildas display âembarrassingâ, and the eventual triumph âvery, very luckyâ.
Australia had taken the lead on 17 minutes when Emily Gielnikâs cross was nodded in by Thai defender Kanjanaporn Saenkhun. Then it went pear-shaped, with walkabout goalkeeper Arnold and Kennedy at the heart of the horror show. The defensive pair failed to deal with a long ball shortly after the opener, allowing Kanjana Sungngoen to score with a chip fumbled in by Arnold.
After the break, they both bungled clearances, letting in Rattikan Thongsombut to give the Thais a deserved lead. Alen Stajcic had gambled with his selection, making six changes to the side that drew with Japan. It backfired, with Kerr and Emily van Egmond watching on as Australia went behind to a side ranked 30 in the world.
The pair were thrown on to rally Australia, and an opening came when Boothduang was sent off for chopping down Kerr. An impotent attacking effort ended in the 91st minute when Kennedy powered a header home from Elise Kellond-Knightâs corner.
Against 10 women, Australia seemed sure to find a third but Lisa De Vanna and Kerr spooned simple efforts in extra time. Instead it was penalties, when Arnoldâs fi ne work saved the Matildas bacon.
Stajcicâs side progress to the final on Saturday morning (AEST) against either Japan or China.Topics
- match reports
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