Australia miss out depsite magnificent performance

Australia has bowed out of the FIFA U/20 Women’s Championships, but will go home wondering what might have been after they drew 1-1 against host nation Russia in Moscow.

Australia has bowed out of the FIFA U/20 Women-s Championships, but will go home wondering what might have been after they drew 1-1 against host nation Russia in Moscow.

The Qantas Young Matildas completely dominated the European Champions, but missed a hatful of chances during the match and were made to pay for those misses with Russia grabbing the opening goal with 15 minutes to play after the one mistake the defence made in the entire match.

Australia fought back with five minutes of play remaining, with Danielle Brogan heading home, but it proved all too late as they finished a point behind both Brazil and Russia on the Group A table.

It was a magnificent performance by the girls, but poor finishing once again let the girls down, as they hammered the Russian defence from start to finish with some great football.

Coach Alistair Edwards was proud of his teams- performance and like many can-t believe his team didn-t win the match.

“Definitely leave with our heads held high,” Edwards told SBS after the game. “We dominated the game from start to finish and created chance after chance, but just couldn-t put the ball away.”

“I thought we absolutely battered them and we are gutted; we thoroughly deserved to be in the quarter finals.”

The match kicked off in driving rain, with Edwards re-shuffling the side to a 3-5-2 formation, which saw Collette McCallum come into the middle as the link player from defence and Sally Shipard getting further forward in support of Sasha McDonnell and Servet Uzunlar.

Australia soon asserted their authority on the match and by the half time came they should have led by two or three goals, such was their domination of their more fancied rivals.

McDonnell was again dangerous but her confidence in front of goal was clearly down, as she missed two guilt-edged chances and had another saved by the Russian keeper with her legs.

The first of these came in just the 5th minute when she broke free into the penalty box, but while her left foot shot beat the keeper, it went agonizingly across the far post.

Thirty seconds later McDonnell-s desperation teed up Uzunlar on the edge of the area, but her fine shot was well saved by Russian keeper Todua at full stretch to her right

The Australian defence played very tight in the first half and kept Russian star Elena Danilova quiet and to just one shot, which she hit straight at Lydia Williams in the 22nd minute. . From then on it was all Australia, as Collette McCallum shot over the crossbar, while McDonnell saw her second chance in the 25th minute, kept out by a great save by Todua with her feet.

However the best chance was still to come and McDonnell will wonder how she missed from five yards out, when a decent touch would have scored from Shipard-s brilliant cross, but she sent the ball wide of the far post.

The chances still kept coming and a McCallum cross to the far post found Polkinghorne but she couldn-t direct her header goalwards.

The second half was no different with Australia pressing hard.

McDonnell just couldn-t quite get the right touch on a beautifully cushioned header by Shipard, which allowed Todua to gather.

Australia though needed to be wary and Kozhnikova sent a shot wide in the 61st minute from in front of goal after a nice cutback from the by-line.

The Young Matildas frustrations continued in the 64th minute, when McDonnell-s great persistence in the box, teed up Shipard whose goalbound shot was blocked and the desperately cleared away for a corner. From corner, Ledbrook sent her shot straight to the keeper.

The turning point came in the 75th minute, when Brogan completely missed an attempted clearance that allowed Danilova an inch of space and she made Australia pay. She fought off Brogan to cut her cross to the top of the six yard box, where Kozhnikova gladly tucked home her shot.

Ledbrook was not far away minutes later with a long range shot, as Australia threw players forward in search of the two goals they needed to qualify for the quarter finals.

Their deserved goal came with five minutes to go, Brogan making up for her earlier error with a terrific header from yet another dangerous McCallum free kick.

Australia continued to press for the winner and almost had a second goal in three minutes later, when Todua allowed a McCallum free kick to slip through her legs, the ball almost going over the line, but was desperately cleared away with Shipard set to pounce.

Shipard then saw a lob just go over the crossbar and then a first time volley go straight to the keeper, while McDonnell was almost the hero at the death, but saw her shot deflected agonisingly wide of the post.

Match Details

Russia 1 (Kozhnikova 75-) Australia 1 (Danielle Brogan 85-)

Australian line-up: Lydia Williams (gk); Clare Polkinghorne, Kim Carroll, Danielle Brogan, Olivia Kennedy, Servet Uzunlar (Jenna Tristram 77-), Amy Jackson (Caitlin Cooper 68-), Sally Shipard (c), Collette McCallum, Sasha McDonnell, Amy Chapman (Kylie Ledbrook 62-) Sub from: Alison Logue (gk); Nicole Somi, Grace Gill, Amy Jackson, Renee Cartwright, Leah Blayney, Kate Stewart (gk)

Cautions: McDonnell (16-)

Referee: Christine Beck (Germany)