Matildas push world number one USA at Peace Cup

A goal 13 minutes from full time has denied the Matildas a draw against world number one USA in their opening match at the 2008 Peace Cup in South Korea.

A goal 13 minutes from full time has denied the Matildas a draw against world number one USA in their opening match at the 2008 Peace Cup in South Korea.

The USA won 2-1 with the winner from Abby Wambach after Matildas midfielder Heather Garriock equalised in the 58th minute cancelling out Natasha Kai's first half opener for the reigning Olympic champions.

"It was a disappointing result in the end because we looked quite comfortable for much of the game with the USA only rarely able to create goalscoring opportunities," said Matildas Coach Tom Sermanni.

"On the positive side I'm pleased with the overall performance and we matched the USA in most areas.

"Generally speaking we were far better than we were at times at the recent Asian Cup and it was a much improved performance defensively and also in general play."

Australia started strongly and Garriock went down heavily under challenge in the penalty area which set the tone for a typically physical encounter between the two teams.

Lauren Colthorpe fired over soon after while the lively Garriock forced a save from the USA goalkeeper.

Play was end to end though both sides were mostly restricted to long range efforts until Kai's opener, which repeated the opening goal she scored when the two nations last met at the 2006 Peace Cup which set the Olympic Champions on course for a 2-0 margin on that occassion.

The goal came on the counter attack after good Australian pressure before the USA quickly broke down field with the ball played into Kai in the penalty area who threaded home from close range.

The deserved equaliser came 13 minutes into the second period after good lead up work on the right flank from Amy Chapman with her cross causing confusion for the defence and pounced on by Garriock who drilled home from some 10 metres out.

It was the seventh goal for the Matildas in their last three outings against the traditional powerhouse of women's football. Last month Australia were twice denied by injury time goals in their two match series in the USA losing 5-4 and 3-2.

Australia have never defeated the USA in 22 matches between the two nations stretching back to their first meeting in 1987. The Matildas have recorded just two draws; famously at the 2004 Athens Olympics and also on their 2005 tour of North America.

However with a third such result looming it was to be more heartbreak for the Matildas with the talismanic Wambach breaking the deadlock for her 96th international goal. The powerful near post header was nearly saved by Matildas custodian Melissa Barbieri but the ball trickled over the line agonisingly just wide of nearby defenders.

The match was also notable for Matildas striker Kate Gill who made her 50th appearance for her country since making her national debut in 2004.

Australia will now meet Italy on Tuesday followed by their final Group B match against World Cup runners up Brazil on Thursday.

In the late match Brazil fought off a hard working Italy to win 2-1.

Match Details:-

Australia 1 (Heather Garriock 58')

USA 2 (Natasha Kai 35', Abby Wambach 77')

Australian line-up: Melissa Barbieri (gk); Clare Polkinghorne, Cheryl Salisbury (Kate McShea 72'), Di Alagich, Ellyse Perry, Lauren Colthorpe, Collette McCallum (Amber Neilson 85'), Heather Garriock, Joanne Burgess (Amy Chapman 50'), Lisa De Vanna, Caitlin Munoz (Kate Gill 74').

Substitutes: Kydia Williams, Jenna Tristram, Kyah Simon, Tameka Butt

Cautions: Alagich 9', Munoz 55'