Matildas score twice in injury time in stunning comeback win over NZ

As if there is ever any doubt left who Australia will look to when they need the big play, Sam Kerr has once again delivered when it matters.

The Matildas have torn the heart out of New Zealand with a stunning pair of injury time goals as the Aussies claimed a 2-1 win over a plucky New Zealand in Townsville on Friday night.

Just when it seemed the Football Ferns were set to beat Australia for the first time since 1994, Emily van Egmond and Sam Kerr both scored in injury time to break the hearts of the New Zealanders.

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In their first appearance since January’s disappointing Asian Cup quarter-final exit, the Matildas again seemed set to pay the price for a lack of penetration in attack.

Similar to their 1-0 Asian Cup loss to South Korea, the Australians had nothing to show for their effortts – until the dying stages – despite creating a host of opportunities.

In contrast, the Football Ferns rarely threatened in attack, needing an audacious first-half strike from left back Anna Green to grab a shock first-half lead.

Taking advantage of some sloppy defending from Matildas star Ellie Carpenter in the 32nd minute, Green unleashed with a stunning left-footed angled shot that caught Australia’s goalkeeper Lydia Williams off her line before flying into the top corner of the net.

The Matildas had a host of chances in the first half, with the returning Katrina Gorry pulling the strings with some wonderful creativity from the base of the midfield.

Never doubt Sam Kerr. Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images
Never doubt Sam Kerr. Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images

However, a combination of impressive goalkeeping from New Zealand’s Victoria Esson and woeful finishing ensured the Australians remained scoreless at the break.

Esson denied a hesitant Hayley Raso, and defenders Clare Polkinghorne and Alanna Kennedy in the opening 20 minutes.

Her effort to save Polkinghorne’s goal-bound header in the was particularly outstanding.

However, those saves aside, the Matildas were extremely wasteful, with star attacking pair Kerr and Kyah Simon among the guilty parties.

Skipper and Chelsea star Kerr fluffed a golden chance in the 27th minute when, with an open goal in front of her, failed to male proper connection with the ball after being found at the back post by a Raso cross.

Esson continued her superb work early in the second half with a superb save to deny Raso.

Soon after the woodwork came to New Zealand’s rescue with substitute Caitlin Foord – who was making her 100th appearance for the Matildas – crashing a shot into the crossbar in the 60th minute.

The Matildas continued to attack but as time went on, their panic to score got the better of them - until van Egmond and Kerr produced their late heroics.

The Matildas can’t even believe it. Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images
The Matildas can’t even believe it. Photo by Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

The header from Kerr sent the green-and-gold into hysterics.

10 sport presenter Tara Rushton said: “That will do me! @samkerr.️ what a finish!

Sports reporter Mark Gottlieb tweeted: “Sam Kerr. You are amazing.”

Labor member for Sandgate Stirling Hinchliffe wrote: “Saved by our hero @samkerr1 - a huge team comeback in injury time and Sam’s head comes to the rescue!”

Queensland Senator Nita Green added: “That’s a very special @samkerr1 goal! I’m so pleased for the crowd in #Townsville that they got to see that finish from @TheMatildas #phew #AUSvNZL”

New Zealand suffered a huge blow in the 15th minute when star midfielder Ria Percival fell to the ground in agony clutching her knee after being stood up by Matildas midfielder Mary Fowler.

Percival, who plays her club football in England for Tottenham Hotspur, was carried off the field by teammates, with fears she had suffered a serious knee injury.

The teams meet again in the second game of the series on Tuesday night in Canberra.

Originally published as Matildas score twice in injury time in stunning comeback win over NZ