Goals to Mary Fowler, Sam Kerr and Tameka Yallop meant that the CommBank Matildas have overcome a determined Chinese Taipei 3-0 to make it three wins from three in Round 2 of Paris 2024 Olympic Qualifying.
They will now play one of the winners of the other two groups, or the best second-placed team, in a two-legged fixture in February to determine the two teams from the Asian Confederation who will qualify for Paris 2024.
There was only one change to the starting lineup that defeated the Philippines 8-0 on Sunday. Clare Wheeler was rewarded for her first international goal with a start at right back, replacing Ellie Carpenter, who returned to her club Lyon earlier in the week.
Australia began in an expected fashion, dominating possession and shots. Chinese Taipei defended doggedly and with tremendous discipline, particularly under a barrage of corners.
It was these corners that would produce the best chances of the half for the home side. The ball somehow stayed out of the net as Fowler smashed the inside of the post from the second phase of a Steph Catley corner. The Manchester City superstar had another opportunity from a Catley corner placed along the ground, but her shot blazed over.
Katrina Gorry had opportunities to shoot from midfield as well. The best worked of which was from a cutback from Fowler – who was involved in everything – but her shot was straight at Chinese Taipei goalkeeper Cheng Ssu-Yu.
As the half wore on without a goal, Kyra Cooney-Cross tried to take things into her own hands. The 40th minute saw a dazzling run into the penalty area and a cross that lifted just over her captain Sam Kerr’s head. The CommBank Matildas kept it in play to fall for another Mary Fowler shot, that somehow was kept out by a wall of Chinese Taipei defenders.
Kerr’s best opportunity of the half came just before half time, when her uncontested header at the back post on the end of a Katrina Gorry cross went over the crossbar.
At halftime, it was scoreless, and there were perhaps a few nerves in the stands as a result. Australia had created plenty of opportunities – over two expected goals, a measure of the quality of chances – but were unable to make it count on the scoresheet.
Tony Gustavsson made two changes at the half. Charli Grant came into right back at the expense of Clare Wheeler, and Lydia Williams came on to make her first appearance in goals of the qualifying tournament.
The second half began in the same vein as the first. Katrina Gorry had a shot that didn’t have the guile to beat the goalkeeper, and Caitlin Foord’s good work driving into the box went similarly unrewarded.
It took a spectacular strike from Mary Fowler to break the game open. Outside the penalty area, she found space to shift onto her right foot. She struck the ball beautifully, and it curled nearly into the top corner of the net to make it 1-0.
Sam Kerr doubled their lead six minutes later. A cross into the box by Caitlin Foord caused confusion between Chinese Taipei’s defence and goalkeeper. In true poacher’s fashion, Kerr was there to capitalise and ensured that her final touch before being substituted off was a goal.
Two further substitutions meant that Amy Sayer and Tameka Yallop were now the central strike partnership, with Fowler and Foord on the right and left respectively.
The strikers combined for the CommBank Matildas' third goal. A cross from Caitlin Foord found Amy Sayer, who did great work to reel it in from the byline. Her cutback found Tameka Yallop, who tapped it home to score her 13th goal in green and gold.
The CommBank Matildas will now close out 2023 in Canada, taking on the Olympic Champions in two games in early December.
The CommBank Matildas will play Uzbekistan in Round 3. Away on Feb 24 and Home on Feb 28. Football Australia will announce the host city/venue in due course.