Matildas win Cup of Nations after win over Argentina in Melbourne
Matildas win Cup of Nations after win over Argentina in Melbourne

Kerr stars as Matildas secure Cup of Nations

THE Matildas' quest for World Cup glory remains on track, after completing a Cup of Nations clean sweep on Wednesday night against plucky Argentina.

Captain Sam Kerr once again justified new coach Ante Milicic's decision to hand her the captaincy, capping another influential display with an early opener with Alanna Kennedy and Caitlin Foord sealing a 3-0 win.

The Matildas hope Wednesday night's post-game scenes were a trailer for June's main event in France, as Kerr held aloft the Cup of Nations trophy in front of 6834 fans at AAMI Park.

 

 

CAPTAIN KERR

Kerr led by example, producing a high-octane display in leading the three-person attack, flanked by the similarly threatening Gielnik and Caitlin Foord.

The Perth Glory star headed the Matildas into the lead, nodding home after an impeccably timed jump to finish Gielnik's corner on four minutes.

Kerr had the Argentine defence on edge, with a mix of link up play and running in behind.

Withdrawn on 61 minutes, Kerr would be thrilled with her start as skipper, bagging three goals in as many games with some strong displays to boot before she heads abroad with the bulk of the squad for their overseas club stints.

 

Matildas captain Sam Kerr in action against Argentina on Wednesday night
Matildas captain Sam Kerr in action against Argentina on Wednesday night

MATILDAS RESHUFFLE

The only blip for the Matildas was an ankle injury to Melbourne Victory defender Laura Alleway, who limped off midway through the first half.

Vice-captain Steph Catley was resolute after switching to a less familiar central defensive role, with Alleway's replacement Gema Simon slotting in at left-back.

Catley won the stoppage time penalty, which Foord emphatically slotted home.

Substitute Aivi Luik looked assured after replacing Amy Harrison at half-time, while veteran Lisa De Vanna and comeback queen Hayley Raso got late chances to impress after replacing Kerr and Gielnik respectively.

 

Alex Chidiac in action for the Matildas against Argentina
Alex Chidiac in action for the Matildas against Argentina

NEAR PERFECT START

World Cup-bound Argentina, ranked 36 in the world, fought hard and showed they were better than their previous two losses indicated.

Australia's win capped off a near perfect start for Milicic, a third straight win against a France 2019 opponent after wins over New Zealand and South Korea.

In the earlier, clash, South Korea beat New Zealand 2-0.

Matildas players celebrate Sam Kerr's early goal against Argentina
Matildas players celebrate Sam Kerr's early goal against Argentina

While Australia conceded just one en route to scoring nine, the more dynamic, fluid style would have been most pleasing for Milicic, although Wednesday night's display was slightly below the high standards set in the previous two games, despite cracking 500 passes.

In the end the Matildas lacked the killer instinct in the final third to inflict a heavier defeat, but it was mission accomplished.

The Matildas celebrate their Cup of Nations win
The Matildas celebrate their Cup of Nations win

WORLD CUP SEND-OFF

Showing he has a sense of occasion, Milicic made some Melbourne-flavoured inclusions to the team, headlined by Melbourne City star Catley, Victory winger Gielnik and her Victory teammate Teigen Allen.

Kerr's first XI appearance made her the only player to start all three Cup of Nations matches.

Considering the conjecture in the wake of Stajcic's sacking, the Matildas could not have asked for a better start under Milicic, who has one more game, away to USA next month, before picking his World Cup squad.

Alanna Kennedy clears the ball against Argentina
Alanna Kennedy clears the ball against Argentina

Showing he has a sense of occasion, Milicic made some Melbourne-flavoured inclusions to the team, headlined by Melbourne City star Catley, Victory winger Gielnik and her Victory teammate Teigen Allen.

Kerr's first XI appearance made her the only player to start all three Cup of Nations matches.

Considering the conjecture in the wake of Stajcic's sacking, the Matildas could not have asked for a better start under Milicic, who has one more game, away to USA next month, before picking his World Cup squad.

AUSTRALIA 3 (Samantha Kerr 4m, Alanna Kennedy 33m, Caitlin Foord 90+4m pen) ARGENTINA 0 at AAMI Park. Crowd: 6,834. Referee: Fusako Kajiyama.