Qantas Matildas impress
The Qantas Matildas have had an impressive hit-out in the second of three matches against visiting Mexico, scoring a 3-0 win at Bob Jane Stadium on Sunday.
The Qantas Matildas have had an impressive hit-out in the second of three matches against visiting Mexico, scoring a 3-0 win at Melbourne's Bob Jane Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
After dominating the first half without finding the net, goals to Jo Burgess, skipper Jo Peters and Lisa De Vanna in the final half-hour secured a well-deserved victory which also sealed the series following Thursday's come-from-behind 2-1 win at the MCG.
"I was happy with the way we started the game and I thought we had some good passages of play in the first half, particularly the first 30 minutes," Qantas Matildas coach Tom Sermanni said after the match.
"The fact that we didn't score during that time, I was then happy with the way we kept plugging away and going about our job in the second half.
"The other thing is that we came away with a clean sheet, and I think in the past eight internationals we've only conceded two goals," he added.
For the most part, the Australians looked a far superior team: well organised at the back, in control and showing good vision in midfield, and quick and dangerous up front.
Strikers Sarah Walsh and Caitlin Munoz received good service from the likes of Sally Shipard, Heather Garriock, Alicia Ferguson and Peters and regularly had the Mexican defence scrambling.
Burgess came on at half-time while Walsh was replaced 15 minutes from time by De Vanna and the Qantas Matildas looked even more potent with the extra speed.
"We certainly created more opportunities today than we did on Thursday night, so that was pleasing," Sermanni said after the match.
"I was a lot happier with some of the execution to create those chances - I thought on Thursday night our execution in the final third was poor - but today we created several good goal-scoring chances."
Goalkeeper Lydia Williams, who recently turned 18, was outstanding, alert to every danger and extremely quick to come off her line when necessary.
While he was pleased with all of the players, Sermanni highlighted the solid work of Ferguson, Shipard, Walsh and Munoz.
"I thought our two strikers - Walsh and Munoz - worked hard, made a lot of runs and made things difficult for their defenders," he added.
"And I thought our goalkeeper, Lydia, was very safe and sound. That's a danger when teams are hitting you on the break you have to be really on your toes and I thought, while she didn't have too many saves to make, she quashed the danger and looked good."
The first three half-chances of the match all fell to Walsh in the first 20 minutes, including a cross from Munoz from the right that rolled across the goalmouth only centimetres from her lunging strike partner.
Peters then had an excellent chance from a corner on 25 minutes, forcing a good save from Mexican 'keeper Sophia Perez and 10 minutes later Walsh had an even better opening drawing an even better save from Perez, throwing out her left leg at exactly the right instant.
Sermanni made three changes at half-time, with Dianne Alagich, Thea Slatyer and Rhian Davies replaced by Burgess, Kate McShea and Karla Reuter and Shipard moving to fullback.
"The two centre backs that played in the first half haven't actually played for the past five months, so they were always only going to play 45 minutes, and the right back's got the flu and she couldn't go any longer," Sermanni explained after the match.
The first 10 minutes of the second stanza saw another handful of half-chances, three falling to Munoz, before the first goal came right on the hour.
From a throw near the left corner, Munoz fired a cross which eluded the diving Perez and Burgess arrived to poke the ball into the net.
Both sides fired off decent attempts in the ensuing 20 minutes, before the pace of Burgess and De Vanna saw Australia awarded a corner, which Garriock swung in from the right, pinpointing Peters at the near post and the skipper nudged it home.
With regulation time expired, the Qantas Matildas added their third and best goal, as Ferguson played a perfect through ball down the right and De Vanna finished neatly.
Although Mexico didn't create as many scoring chances, there were a handful of close calls for the locals.
On the quarter hour, Rebecca Juarez evaded several defenders before finally being shut down only metres out and on the stroke of half-time she looked almost certain to score from point-blank range until Davies made a desperate, saving challenge.
Their best chance also fell to Juarez, just five minutes after Australia's first goal, but Williams saved brilliantly going down to her left to parry a cracking strike from inside 10 metres on a slight angle.
"Mexico is a team that's very dangerous on the break and we actually spoke about that at half-time, and said the big danger is if we get caught on the break, or get caught sleeping, or get caught outnumbered, or get caught square and the ball's going over the top," Sermanni noted.
"When they broke away they did cause us some problems," he admitted, "although in general I thought we defended it fairly well."
The coach and his team had every reason to feel satisfied not only with the result, but also the 90-minute performance, especially given their limited match play.
"We've got a squad of 20 and some real competition for places. Basically what we're looking at is people stepping up to the plate, so to speak.
"We're still fiddling about with various systems of play that we might use, and so we're looking for a consistency of play and some good little habits that we emphasize in training."
The third and final match of the series, a major part of the Qantas Matildas' build-up to July's Asian Women's Championships in Adelaide, will be played on Tuesday afternoon at Port Melbourne SC's Anderson Reserve ground.
Australia 3 (Burgess 58', Peters 83', De Vanna 90') Mexico 0
Qantas Matildas: Lydia Williams (gk); Heather Garriock, Dianne Alagich (Kate McShea h/t), Thea Slatyer (Karla Reuter h/t), Rhian Davies (Jo Burgess h/t), Jo Peters (c), Sally Shipard, Alicia Ferguson, Kylie Ledbrook, Caitlin Munoz (Kate Gill 85'), Sarah Walsh (Lisa De Vanna 74')
Cautions: Ledbrook 63'
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