For Australia, the come-from-behind 3-2 victory over Brazil in Montpellier did not just keep their World Cup hopes alive -- it provided vindication.
“Real Aussie heart being shown,” said goalkeeper Lydia Williams. “It was kind of do or die for us.”
Australia were mugged by Italy in the first game, taking a first-half lead through star forward Sam Kerr only to lose to two second-half goals by Barbara Bonansea, the second in the 96th minute.
On Thursday, they fell behind to two first-half goals. This time Australia came back.
“Tonight is one of the finest Australian performances I have seen,” said coach Ante Milicic.
Brazil took the lead after Elise Kellond-Knight dragged down Leticia Santos in the 27th minute. Marta converted the penalty to increase her record women’s World Cup goal total to 16.
Then Cristiane bullied Steph Catley before heading her fourth of this World Cup and 11th in all.
Australia used the same methodical tactics that failed to turn possession into goals against Italy.
This time they paid off in the last seconds of the first half when Caitlin Foord volleyed in Chloe Logarzo’s flicked header.
“Early in the game, I feel the game was played in their half that gives you a little bit of belief when you cop two goals,” said Foord.
Australia needed some help, and they got it.
Even though striker Sam Ellis failed to reach Logarzo’s long, low cross, she distracted Brazilian goalkeeper Barbara and the ball bounced into the net.
Shortly afterwards, Brazilian defender Monica’s attempted headed clearance flew into her own goal.
“At times we were probably a little too direct,” Milicic said. “But I thought the variation was good and we got the rewards.”
Logarzo was voted player of the game. She said the team was inspired by their coach at half-time.
“Ante really goes in there and is able to lift us,” she said. “The Australian mentality is to come out swinging when our back is against the wall. We like a good fight.”
“It’s an unbelievable feeling for me to score any goal,” Logarzo added. “It wasn’t a shot but I’ll take it. It was definitely a cross for Sam. But a goal’s a goal.”
Brazil started with seven players over 30 and one, Formiga, over 40. Milicic acknowledged that they might have been a good team for the way Australia play.
“We’ve worked very hard in our conditioning,” he said. “The more the ball is in play the better for us. We keep shifting the opponents, shifting the ball. Today as the game went on we looked very strong but a couple of their players had cramp.”
Kellond-Knight acknowledged that conceding “two goals is again a concern”, and was torn over the penalty she gave away.
“Got to put everything on the line in a situation like that” she said.
“I’d like to review it again. I don’t think it was a penalty. In saying that, you can’t hold shirt in the box. Just got to cop it.”