An Australian aspect lacking injured celebrity Sam Kerr made a successful begin to their residence Ladies’s World Cup on Thursday with a nervy 1-0 victory over debutants Eire in entrance of a pulsating 75,000-strong Sydney crowd. Stand-in skipper Steph Catley calmly slotted residence a penalty within the 52nd minute in the one aim of a full-blooded recreation that sprung to life within the second half. It ensured three factors in a troublesome Group B because the Matildas kick-started their mission to comb previous the quarter-finals for the primary time.
However they needed to do with out Chelsea striker Kerr, their all-time main goal-scorer who was dominated out earlier than kick-off till not less than their third recreation with a calf harm.
The setback means the skipper can even miss the conflict towards Nigeria in every week’s time, with their medical group to make an evaluation earlier than their last group conflict, towards Olympic champions Canada.
Regardless of her absence, deafening cheers in a throbbing Stadium Australia greeted the gamers, with a document crowd of 75,784 for a girls’s recreation in Australia — loads of them Irish followers in full voice.
It surpassed the 50,629 who flocked to see the Matildas in a Melbourne pleasant towards France final week that the house aspect received 1-0.
That victory got here on the again of latest wins over Spain and European champions England, with many seeing Australia as among the many title favourites.
Manchester Metropolis’s Mary Fowler, who scored the winner towards France, began rather than Kerr with Arsenal’s Catley assuming the captain’s armband.
That they had their first sniff of aim within the sixteenth minute after a cagey opening, however Clare Hunt could not management her header from Kyra Cooney-Cross’s nook and the ball flew broad.
Eire did effectively to blunt Australia’s regular high-octane recreation, defending deep, as Kerr appeared on nervously from the sidelines.
Hayley Raso had an honest alternative, shaving the upright with a header, whereas Caitlin Foord’s left-foot strike hit the side-netting.
Some clattering challenges had been made by each side and the yellow card lastly got here out for Eire’s Denise O’Sullivan, herself the casualty of a fierce deal with in an deserted pleasant towards Colombia final week that noticed her taken to hospital.
The breakthrough got here seven minutes into the second half when Raso was bundled over within the field by Marissa Sheva.
With no Kerr, Catley stepped as much as belt her spot-kick into the left-hand nook and ship the group wild, with the reduction palpable.
It sparked the sport into life and Fowler nearly made it 2-0 quickly after, however her effort flew over the bar.
Eire refused to go away and launched waves of assaults in a determined push for the equaliser, however the residence aspect threw gamers behind the ball and clung on to make sure an unconvincing victory.