Waltz­ing Matil­das the bright bossa of Brazil

Sunday Tasmanian - - Sport - TOM SMITHIES

THEY came in their thou­sands to see the team mak­ing waves around the world and the Matil­das didn’t dis­ap­point.

Aus­tralia put down an­other marker on its quest to be among the world’s best, beat­ing Brazil 2-1 in Pen­rith thanks to goals from Lisa De Vanna and Sam Kerr.

Even if only a friendly, the re­sult proved again how strong the Matil­das have be­come.

In a mem­o­rable con­test, they played with power and panache, and fully de­served the vic­tory – the sec­ond time in six weeks that they have bossed it over Brazil.

From the start the Matil­das were de­ter­mined to show that they had earned the na­tion’s at­ten­tion the hard way, by mix­ing it with the world’s best and mov­ing to join that elite com­pany.

Weeks ago, Brazil had been thrashed 6-1 by the Matil­das at the Tour­na­ment of Na­tions but the vis­i­tor had a stronger squad in Pen­rith and clearly some­thing to prove.

On a day when the crowd of 15,089 brought the heart of the Syd­ney sub­urb to a stand­still, the grid­lock ex­tended at times onto the pitch in the arm wres­tle for supremacy.

Brazil’s strat­egy was soon clear, mov­ing the ball wide quickly and tar­get­ing the Aus­tralian full­backs.

And their in­ten­sity spilled over more than once, with Djenifer Becker booked for scyth­ing down Kerr.

Aus­tralia de­served the lead for of­fer­ing a greater threat and just be­fore half-time it came.

Elise Kel­lond-Knight be­gan it with a quick throw to­wards Tameka Butt on the edge of the box, who steered the ball to­wards De Vanna 18m from goal. Meet­ing it with an im­pe­ri­ous vol­ley, De Vanna sent a loop­ing shot into the top cor­ner.

It was a glo­ri­ous strike that left the crowd in rap­tures.

Five min­utes af­ter the break, Caitlin Fo­ord al­most dou­bled the lead, meet­ing De Vanna’s low cross, but was bravely de­fied by goal­keeper Daniele Neuhaus.

At 1-0 the lead re­mained a fine mar­gin and An­dressa Alves al­most brought par­ity with a thump­ing shot from dis­tance that struck the post.

Given that re­prieve, the Matil­das struck again with an­other fine goal.

This time the un­likely cre­ator was Al­lana Kennedy, re­triev­ing a loose ball and cross­ing into the box where Kerr glanced it over Neuhaus for the sec­ond goal.

De­binha pulled one back for the vis­i­tors with 11 min­utes re­main­ing, giv­ing goal­keeper Ly­dia Wil­liams no chance.

Smith is re­main­ing tightlipped about se­lec­tion, in­sist­ing a fi­nal as­sess­ment will be made to­day.

“We’ve got a few dif­fer­ent op­tions and we’ll go with what­ever we think is best for each of the con­di­tions,” he said.

Both sides have lost dam­ag­ing open bats­man, with Aaron Finch with­draw­ing with a calf in­jury while In­dia star Shikhar Dhawan was granted leave to be with his sick wife.

All-rounder Hil­ton Cartwright could open for Aus­tralia with Travis Head at No.4.

Ajinkya Ra­hane is likely to re­place Dhawan at the top of the or­der for the hosts.

The de­ci­sion for Aus­tralian selec­tors is for spin or pace among the all-rounders.

Ash­ton Agar’s left-arm tweak­ers yielded 4-44 in a warm-up match against the In­dian Board Pres­i­dent’s XI.

James Faulkner would bol­ster the seem stocks with his abil­ity to take the pace off the ball in the mid­dle overs.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to say how it’s go­ing to play at the mo­ment,” Smith said of the pitch.

“It’s prob­a­bly still a lit­tle bit soft. I’d say it will har­den up pretty quick.”

While bat dom­i­nated ball in the Aus­tralia-In­dia ODI series on the sub­con­ti­nent in 2013, Smith did not de­clare a re­peat.

“It was a run fest (last time) – 350 was around par I think,” Smith said.

TOP SHOT: Lisa De Vanna scores the first goal.

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