Valiant Aussies downed in Belo Horizonte
14 August 2016
FOOTBALL: Australia’s football women have suffered the most heartbreaking of defeats, having succumbed to hosts Brazil in a tense penalty shoot out, 7-6, at the Mineirão.
Despite the loss, it was a heroic performance to the letter. Extra time and then penalties – against the backdrop of 60,000 vocal Brazilians – was needed for Brazil to progress at Australia’s expense.
Goalkeeper Lydia Williams was one of many heroes in a losing side for Australia, a standout throughout two hours of open play and valiant shootout contributor.
Katrina Gorry and Alanna Kennedy were the luckless players to miss the decisive kicks that secured Brazil’s triumph.
Australia’s team is now nonetheless bound for Rio de Janeiro to savour what is left of their Olympic experience, having well and truly made its mark again on the biggest stage.
“Obviously we’re all proud of all of the players,” said coach Alen Stajcic after the match.
“It was an amazing effort...courageous and resilient.
“We’re all proud of our players and proud of how they represented their country tonight.”
Nil-all was a fair enough reflection of a tense opening period that saw both sides go close.
Kennedy’s shot at the tail of a set piece forced Brazil ‘keeper Barbara to make a save, while Williams showed her quality to deny Debinha.
Stephanie Catley’s withdrawal midway through the half due to injury was clearly a turning point, though by the half’s end, Australia had found their feet.
It was Catley’s replacement, Chloe Logarzo, that came closest for Australia in the second half – her amazing strike from distance slamming against the crossbar.
Primary plaudits were saved for Williams, however, who produced the save of the Games in the final minute to deny Brazil a sure winner and push the match into extra time and then penalties.