De Vanna earns Australia deserved draw

Lisa De Vanna has once again proved to be Australia’s ‘super sub’ after scoring a sensational goal with seven minutes remaining to give the Matildas a deserved 1-1 draw with group favourites Norway at the FIFA Women’s World Cup in China.

Lisa De Vanna has once again proved to be Australia-s ‘super sub- after scoring a sensational goal with seven minutes remaining to give the Matildas a deserved 1-1 draw with group favourites Norway at the FIFA Women-s World Cup in China.

De Vanna came off the bench at half time and was at her menacing best and proving extremely difficult to contain.

The moment that mattered however came in the 83rd minute, when Caitlin Munoz played a ball through and she brilliantly turned her defender inside out and then struck a superb left foot shot from outside of the box that gave the Norwegian keeper no chance.

Australia was terrific value for its point and was the stronger team towards the end and could have won it. They will go into the final group match against Canada, only needing a point to go through to the second round.

The match also proved the depth of this current squad, with coach Tom Sermanni making six changes to the starting side. Enforced changes saw Danielle Small and Alicia Ferguson come into midfield for injured pair Sally Shipard and Jo Peters; Kate Gill and Jo Burgess replaced Munoz and Sarah Walsh in attack, while Thea Slatyer and Lauren Colthorpe came in for Kate McShea and Clare Polkinghorne at the back.

But the match didn-t start well for Australia, who looked a little nervous and saw Norway take the lead after just five minutes of play.

Dangerous striker Ragnhild Gulbrandsen was brilliantly put through; she shrugged off Slatyer and calmly stroked her shot home past Melissa Barbieri.

Norway, ranked number four in the world, always looked composed and were controlling the midfield, always seemingly with players spare and in support of the ball player, as Australia-s defence sat fairly deep.

But Australia slowly worked its way back into the match, with the Collette McCallum and Heather Garriock in particular, working well together on the left side and creating trouble for the defence.

In the 19th minute, Small was inches away from levelling it up, when she just missed a beautiful cross from McCallum after she had turned the Norwegian defence on the edge of the six-yard box.

Four minutes later, Burgess pounced on a poor back header by a Norway defender, but her attempted lob over the advancing keeper was superbly blocked. It was all Australia at this point as McCallum received a ball from Garriock, but was unable to get enough power in her shot and it was blocked away.

Norway though regained the ascendancy in midfield and had Australia-s defence under constant attack, but a series of shots at goal never threatened Barbieri-s goal.

McCallum and Garriock ended the half with shots on target to give the Matildas hope for the second half.

De Vanna-s arrival for Small, certainly added spark to the match and she never let the Norwegian defence settle.

Five minutes after the break, she teed up Di Alagich on the left, but her shot was well wide of the far post.

Norway was inches away from making it 2-0 in the 52nd minute, when Mykjaaland cut inside from the left and struck a superb shot that hit the far post and was cleared away by defence.

A minute later, the Matildas were also denied by the post, when De Vanna dispossessed a Norwegian defender and raced towards goal. Outpacing the defence she looked certain to score, but scuffed her shot and although it beat the keeper, it hit the outside of the post.

Captain Cheryl Salisbury then had two headers in quick succession saved by the keeper, as Australia started to dominate, with the addition of Sarah Walsh and Munoz off the bench.

The deserved goal for the Matildas finally came when Munoz burst forward from midfield, fed De Vanna 20 metres out, and after beating the defender, finished with aplomb for her third goal of the tournament.

Salisbury almost won it for Australia, with another header at goal that flew just wide of the goal, but a point keeps Australia at the top of the group ahead of Norway on goal difference and a point ahead of Canada.

While De Vanna will take the plaudits once again, this was a real team performance, with the defence, especially, doing a superb job in the second half, where the Norwegians hardly had a sniff at goal.

A win over Canada could well see the Matildas finish top of the group, depending on how much Norway beat Ghana by, who lost their second successive game 4-0 to the Canadians earlier in the day.

Match Details

Australia 1 (Lisa De Vanna 83-) Norway 1 (Ragnhild Gulbrandsen 5-)

Australian line-up: Melissa Barbieri (gk); Alicia Ferguson, Di Alagich, Cheryl Salisbury (c), Heather Garriock, Kate Gill (Sarah Walsh 61-), Thea Slatyer, Collette McCallum, Lauren Colthorpe (Caitlin Munoz 76-), Danielle Small (Lisa De Vanna h/t), Jo Burgess Subs Not Used: Kate McShea, Rhian Davies, Lydia Williams (gk), Clare Polkinghorne, Emma Wirkus (gk) Unavailable: Jo Peters & Sally Shipard (both injured)

Cautions: Nil Expulsions: Nil

Referee: NIU Huijun (CHN)