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Foord hat-trick puts Matildas back on track

Soccer

Australia’s women have turned on a stunning second-half to earn a 5-0 win over Chile in Newcastle on Tuesday, firmly putting their recent woes behind them.

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After a tight and hard-fought opening half, the Matildas belatedly found their rhythm with a four-goal salvo inside 17 minutes in front of a bumper 12,649 midweek crowd.

Caitlin Foord stole the show, setting up Sam Kerr for the opener seven minutes after the break, before scoring two of her own.

Substitute Emily Gielnik netted with a superb finish, before Foord completed her hat-trick in the dying minutes.

Seeking to end a three-match winless run following their unexpected 3-2 loss to Chile on Saturday, Matildas coach Alen Stajcic made three changes.

First-choice central defender Alanna Kennedy replaced Laura Alleway, after some recent defensive woes.

Newcastle Jets’ fullback Gema Simon also started allowing Chloe Logarzo to play in a more forward role, leaving veteran Lisa De Vanna rotated to the bench.

Reserve goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, who came in for regular No.1 Lydia Williams, kept scores level after denying Chile forward Daniela Zamora with an important block.

Australia began with their usual high tempo approach but, unlike in Saturday’s match at Penrith, they had little to show for their endeavours.

Any hopes Australia had of steamrolling their opponents early as they did to Brazil at this venue last year soon dissipated as the well-organised Chile once again belied their lowly world ranking of 39.

Logarzo could have broken the deadlock only to head over, while Kennedy directed a header onto the base of the post four minutes before halftime.

The second half was a different story.

Tameka Butt had two half-chances in quick succession and then the floodgates opened.

Foord picked up the ball in midfield and ran with trademark pace at the defence before releasing Kerr for a comfortable finish past exposed goalkeeper Christiane Endler.

Two minutes later Foord deservedly had a goal of her own, firing home impressively from an acute angle after Logarzo’s square ball caused havoc.

The pressure valve had well and truly been released.

Midway through the half Foord took advantage of some hesitancy to pounce on a poor touch from Endler to finish cooly from outside the penalty area.

Gielnik made it two goals in two minutes as she finished a sweeping move with a perfect left-foot finish.

Chile created a couple of late half-chances but the night was all about the Matildas.

Foord completed her hat-trick two minutes from time and could have had another but for a scrambling save from Endler.

“Chile were really good in the first half, and I thought they probably shaded us in the first half,” said Stajcic.

“But football is about moments, and we capitalised on those moments today.

“I don’t think the scoreline was an accurate reflection, but we still controlled large parts of the game, even though there are still lots of areas we can improve on.”

– AAP

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