LIVE – Updated at 09:24
Australia scored three first-half goals before withstanding a second-half fightback to defeat Spain in Parramatta.
Tony Gustavsson’s just had a quick word and I like what he said, noting that the first half wasn’t a 3-0 performance, nor was the second a 0-2 showing, so not to get carried away by either. He will have learned a lot tonight, from both halves. Perfect world cup preparation.
A little word on Spain too. They are a very good football team and on another night could have won this game comfortably. Hopefully the situation in Spanish football is resolved before the world cup so they’re able to return to Australia with their best XI.
Nobody in gold suffered any reputational damage tonight, but a few players stood out. Hayley Raso’s pace and energy makes her a menace of world class standing. Mackenzie Arnold was brave and inspired. And for all Spain’s possession they rarely got the better of Clares Polkinghorne and Hunt in the heart of Australia’s defence. After months of searching, a World Cup partnership appears to have been found. Polkinghorne celebrating afterwards with a commemorative jersey marking her 150th cap; Hunt making her starting debut.
Analysis of tonight’s match will be fascinating. There was enough in the 90 minutes to confirm all manner of biases.
The bottom line is Australia won, so everything has to follow from that starting point. But it cannot be overlooked that Mackenzie Arnold deserved to be named player of the match, and that Spain dominated possession and created the greater number of chances.
Playing with such speed and directness on the counterattack is a risk-reward strategy. Against good opposition it means the Matildas might not see a lot of the ball, so they have to make the most of it when they do. In the first half they did exactly that, scoring three times and looking dangerous in every transition. But in the second half they struggled to get a foothold and relied on Spain misfiring in the final third.
Tony Gustavsson then gets his squad into a huddle and revs them up, telling them to celebrate an important victory, even if they were under the pump most of the second half.
Hayley Raso – who was superb in the opening half – has just had a few words on the telly. The main takeaway was how the Matildas have been treating this series like a World Cup warm-up and they’re delighted with their ability to secure results against strong opposition.
Full-time: Australia 3-2 Spain
The Matildas hang on!
GOAL! Australia 3-2 Spain (Redondo 90+4)
With barely a minute left Spain get a second! It’s a slow build-up down the right but Marta Cardona digs out a good cross that Redondo smashes home first time on the volley at the near post. That was a blistering finish.
90+2 mins: Australia are defending their box with great determination. Nevin shows plenty of spunk pressing Hermoso and getting in the Spanish veteran’s face.
90 mins: Spain have lost composure in the last ten minutes or so, failing to string those combinations together in the final third to unlock the Australian defence. Too often the ball has been delivered vertically, only to find the unflappable Polkinghorne.
Five minutes of stoppage time.
88 mins: Spain have a corner on the right, Hermoso swings it in, and Mackenzie Arnold plucks it out of the sky like Atlas holding up the world. the Matildas keeper has been outstanding tonight.
That 5-3-2 is now a 5-4-1 with more substitutions.
86 mins: Kerr has worked hard all night, but she’s lacked an element of decisiveness in the final third, and it’s on display again when she runs onto a van Egmond throughball but instead of driving for goal tries to play the ball across to Foord, only to see a weak pass intercepted.
84 mins: Spain continue to probe and that ball on the inside left channel works a treat. Paralluelo’s cross is dangerous, but Arnold is brave and first to a 50-50 with Redondo and earns a free-kick, as well as a couple of bruises for her troubles. The Spanish forward is harshly booked for what was a legitimate contest for the ball.
82 mins: Great hustle from Foord to close down space on the right. Polkinghorne is then too strong in the air in the box, but the attacks keep coming from Spain. Another cross is stabbed clear, but only as far as Hermoso – who shoots harmlessly over the bar. Spain’s 18th shot of the night (to Australia’s 14).
80 mins: Australia are now set up in a 5-3-2 formation, happy to absorb whatever Spain throw at them.
78 mins: ANOTHER GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY GOES BEGGING! Spain, dear oh dear. Turnover in midfield, Salma Paralluelo, just on as a substitute, has only one defender in front of her, who she turns inside out, only to then smash a shot wide of Arnold’s goal. Vilda will wonder how his side is not at least level.
One final drinks break as the teams prepare for the final 15 minutes. Gustavsson must be imploring his side to push further out and avoid being suffocated by Spain’s relentless passing. Australia have been second best this half, relying on some inspired goalkeeping and a resolute rearguard action to retain their first half advantage.
GOAL! Australia 3-1 Spain (Olga Carmona, 73)
Finally Spain hit the scoreboard. A corner from the right is headed to the edge of the box where the Spanish left-back executes a technically brilliant half-volley, angling her body, striking her foot through the ball with power to send it through a forest of legs and beyond Arnold.
72 mins: And now the Matildas break! And they have the ball in the back of the net again – only to see the offside flag raised. It’s another very tight call with Gorry and Grant hitting the line at different phases in the counterattack.
Nevin and van Egmond come on for Vine and Cooney-Cross.
71 mins: Play is almost at walking pace 25m out from Australia’s goal as Spain pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, pass, waiting for an opening that never comes. A cross comes in for the left but it’s blocked behind off the boot. The corner comes to nought and it’s back to the pass clinic.
69 mins: Excellent defending from Polkinghorne, reading the space superbly to block Redondo and intercept the throughball. Australia are now fixated on defence, closing down Spain’s wide players and stepping out to block or disrupt with maximum intensity.
67 mins: A rare long ball to Hermoso demonstrates some frustration on behalf of the visitors, and the ball just ricochets away allowing Australia to take some sting out of the game.
65 mins: The advantage of all those gold shirts in defence means Spain have less room in which to manoeuvre and a couple of trademark balls inside the fullbacks are cut out allowing Australia to move downfield.
63 mins: Australia are now being sucked into a low block and short of numbers on the counter. This is becoming an attack v defence training exercise.
61 mins: HOW ARE SPAIN STILL GOALLESS!? Another superb build-up through the lines, brilliant ball on the inside-right for the overlapping fullback who cuts the ball across for Hermoso who cannot beat Arnold from five metres out. That had to go in. Credit to the goalkeeper for another magnificent save, but that is a dreadful miss.