Matildas’ ranking takes a hit from Chile
SOMETIMES results defy statistics, but that will be little comfort to the Matildas after a shock 3-2 loss to world No.39 Chile that leaves their World Cup seeding in the balance.
For all the possession and separation of 33 world-ranking places, mistakes and a lack of execution cost Australia dearly yesterday, and its South American visitors claimed the first match of the series at Panthers Stadium in Penrith.
The home side’s only consolation was Emily van Egmond’s two penalties, but a first-half defensive howler allowed Francisca Lara to level and, from there, Alen Stajcic’s world No.6 side never executed in the manner to which it has been accustomed.
Precious FIFA rankings points were on the line in front of 15,185 people, a crowd top- ping even last year’s win over Brazil at the same venue.
Stajcic had implored his team to rediscover the dominance that has shot it into genuine World Cup contention in France in seven months, but this loss did nothing for a potential seeding.
Chile will travel to Newcastle for Tuesday night’s rematch targeting a double scalp.
The Matildas took the lead inside nine minutes.
A passage of possession left Chile out of shape and, when Tameka Butt threaded a ball to Caitlin Foord in the box, Geraldine Lleyton slid in for a desperate tackle.
Immediate appeals for a penalty were rewarded and van Egmond struck expertly from the spot.
The Matildas have had few clean sheets recently and an underhit backpass from Laura Alleway ensured this would not be one of them. The 28-year-old, given a rare opportunity with Alanna Kennedy on the bench, left Lydia Williams too far to run and Maria Jose Urrutia got there first.
Clare Polkinghorne’s ensuing clearance found the chest of Lara and she grabbed a 20th-minute equaliser.
By the time halftime rolled around, the Matildas had had 10 shots to one.