Australia win first-ever KO stage match, stun Brazil in Round of 16
Kyah Simon pounded home a close-range rebound after Luciana could not hold Lisa De Vanna’s shot from the right and made football history for Australia in Moncton, New Brunswick on Sunday.
No Australian team — male or female — had won a World Cup knockout game before Simon’s strike in the 80th minute produced a 1-0 victory over favored Brazil. Simon’s goal also meant that the Aussies ended a knockout round losing streak against the South American champions, who had kayoed Australia in the elimination round each of the last two Women’s World Cups.
The result sends Australia into a Saturday quarterfinal in Edmonton against the winner of Tuesday night’s Japan-Netherlands match (live, FOX Sports 1, FOX Sports Go, 10 p.m .ET). Off their defensive performance and their proven ability to spring counter-attacks when defenses make mistakes, they will head into the next round full of confidence.
"The players stuck to their tasks well, demonstrating good execution speed and a strong mental attitude. It’s a huge moment for us, but I’m hopeful that we’ll experience even bigger moments in the near future. We want to go as far as possible in this tournament," said Alen Stajcic, Australia’s coach. "Thinking about what might happen next is actually very exciting. We’re very happy to have beaten a potential Women’s World Cup winner like Brazil. It was amazing to see how much the team were up for the fight today. I’m extremely proud of them."
Brazil, which has never won a Women’s World Cup despite always being highly-touted, was unable to break down that defense, which both controlled the tempo of the match and limited the Brazilians’ ability to isolate anyone in the back to create one-v-one chances. Simon’s goal was the only one they allowed in four matches in Canada but it was enough to send them home.
Neither team made an impression in a slow, at times lackluster, first half. Australia showed enough attacking potential to prevent the Brazilians sending extra player forwards, but other than a Samantha Kerr volley that hit the near side net their attacks usually fell apart once they neared the penalty area and they were content to keep Brazil from getting into is game.
Indeed, Brazil showed little of their usual flair, as Marta was unable to create much going forward and the absence of individual runs quite noticeable. They did produce the best chance of the half when Lydia Williams had to be a full-stretch to tip over a long-range drive from Formiga in the 28th minute. But, like Australia at the other end, the Brazilians could not string final passes together when they needed to.
The rain and wind on a cool Sunday afternoon had some effect on the game, but too many of the Brazilian errors were self-inflicted, conceding possession far too easily. The result was a game often contested in tight spaces with defenders outnumbering attackers and the attackers unable to spread the field enough to alter the pace of play.
Brazil began the second half on the attack but Tamires pulled a decent chance across the face of goal. Later on, Williams made a good one-handed save to deny Marta and Formiga saw a close-range header come back off the right post as they continued to have no luck finishing in the first hour.
The Brazilians finally began to stamp their passing game on the match after Formiga’s near miss in the 63rd minute, but they were not passing the ball quickly enough to open up the massed Australian defense. When the half-chances popped up, shots too often were high and wide to trouble Williams and once the Aussies proved they could shut things down in the box they went forward with more confidence and finally got the vital goal.
"It came down to a simple little thing: losing the ball in midfield. We had controlled the match, especially in the second half. But we weren’t capable of finding an equalizer after conceding the goal," said Brazil’s coach Vadao. "We’re convinced that we had the right attitude. Physically speaking, I felt as if we were one of the top teams in the tournament. Tactically, we also appeared to get things right. We just couldn’t find the goal we needed against Australia."
Australia had a set-piece chance with 15 minutes left when Marta lost possession to Caitlin Foord and Kerr was fouled by Fabiana outside the box to break up the counter. The free kick, taken quickly, produced nothing however as a somewhat dubious offside flag when up when Foord chipped the ball forward. There was no mistake on the next attack, however, De Vanna making the right side run and shot which Luciana could only spill into the path of Simon, who buried the chance