USA get better of Matildas in eight-goal pre-World Cup thriller

The worlds No 1 team won 5-3 on a wild night in Colorado that was highlighted as much by attacking proficiency as defensive porosity

Alex Morgans milestone 100th international goal always looked likely to lead the headlines on a crisp night in Colorado, but the home side had to come from behind to record a pulsating victory over a spirited Matildas side.

New Australia coach Ante Milici promised his side would play with attacking intent, and they did just that. But on a night of landmarks, Morgan and US co-captain Megan Rapinoe, in her 150th appearance and whose brilliant jinking run and strike in the 60th minute effectively decided the contest, ensured a remarkable record stayed intact: when Morgan scores, the US never lose.

In cool conditions amid Denvers rarified air, it took just 22 seconds for the match to warm up, with Lisa De Vanna finding herself free inside the US box, only to be denied by fullback Emily Sonnett.

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Cheered by a vocal crowd of more than 17,000, the USWNT laid siege to the Australian goal as the Matildas attempts to play out from the back saw them uncharacteristically nervy against a high US press.

Americas front three of Rapinoe, Tobin Heath and Morgan found plenty of space behind the visitors high defensive line, combining well with the returning Lindsay Horan, with sharp one-touch flicks, one-twos, and clever cutbacks, culminating in Morgans deserved opener.

It came from a long pass from fullback Crystal Dunn, with Morgan showing both strength and pace in a one-on-one scenario that left Claire Polkinghorne sprawled on the ground, before cutting inside the covering defence and firing a sharp effort home.

Within a minute Sam Kerr almost hit straight back, and having weathered the early onslaught, the Matildas began to build into the contest, finding space down the right hand side, where Ellie Carpenter probed upfield from fullback and Tameka Yallop (ne Butt) pushing wide from midfield.

With Kerr and Caitlin Foord combining well centrally, Australia found an equaliser in the 28th minute; veteran De Vanna calmly slotted her fourth goal against the USA, with the home backline defending narrowly and affording the left winger far too much space.

In a mad three minutes, a third of the way through the game, both sides went end-to-end as the match threatened to turn into a frenetic training-ground exercise of backs v forwards, with the attackers very much on top. It remained 1-1 at the break, but it took Australia just two minutes before they took a surprise lead through Foord.

A poor turnover from the otherwise impressive Julie Ertz led to the goal, as her forward pass was well-anticipated and intercepted by Alanna Kennedy. The centre-back played forward to Foord, who cleverly dummied before receiving a one-two from Kerr, and with De Vanna free out wide, Foord tricked the US defence by spinning sharply inside to finish well past an unsighted Alyssa Naeher in goal.

The home side appeared a little frustrated, with captain Rapinoe going into the book shortly afterwards for an arm across the face of Yallop. But if the home fans felt stunned, into didnt take long for their charges to issue a response.

After a ball across the face of goal from Rapinoe found Sonnett, the right-back lifted her head, appraised her options and picked out a perfect cross to the far post. Lydia Williams was no chance to deny Heath her third goal in as many games from point-blank range.

With an hour on the clock came the goal of the game. A partial clearance from Yallop only found the bane of Australia during their 2015 World Cup opener, and taking a touch inside to evade her marker, Rapinoe jinked and fired an arrowing shot into Williams bottom right-hand corner.

With the momentum wrested back towards the home side, local girl Mallory Pugh received a rapturous welcome from her fellow Coloradans, coming on for Rapinoe in the 65th minute after the veteran succumbed to a calf injury.

She repaid the welcome in spades, after Morgans clever backheel was played wide to Pugh by Sonnett, and the youngster fired home a fourth with her very first touch of the match.

It appears USA and Australia only play high-scoring games at the Mile-High City, with the previous fixture between these two sides in 2012 finishing 6-2 to the home side. De Vanna and Morgan both scored on that occasion, but there were new more names to be etched into the history books here.

As both sides rang the changes, Australia continued to threaten down their right-hand side, and it was the combination of substitute Hayley Raso and the impressive Carpenter that saw captain Kerr briefly threaten late heroics, with the matchs seventh goal in the 81st minute.

Any threat of a revival stopped there though, as the US closed out the match in injury-time, as the promising Pugh picked up her second of the game.

Original Article : HERE ; This post was curated & posted using : RealSpecific

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