Sleepy Observations – Algarve Cup // Australia v Norway

Sleepy observation are back. Well they were never truly gone, more like it went into hibernation over our Aussie summer and W-League season. But with the Algarve Cup and the Matildas involvement in it, the long, uninterrupted sleep ends and early mornings along with middle of the night alarms return. So this morning’s poison? A game that on paper looked to be as dope as the Winter Olympics snowboarding halfpipe event was, Australia took on Norway. (PS it was doper than the snowboarding halfpipe event, bar Chloe Kim [MAYBE])

Australia v Norway

So I wake up, try to get my bearings and flick on my Foxtel app (thanks Dad for the log in) preparing myself for what my dreary eyes were going to witness all before breakfast time. Double checking with Twitter on the line up, I wasn’t alert enough to understand the line up the commentator probably butched the names of, and one name I’m excited to see is Clare Polkinghorne. After such a stellar W-League season, not only is Polks named, she is playing at centre back.

Both sides had hands on your head opportunities early on but it was Norway with the break through. On the eleventh minute Elise Thorsnes got on the end of a low cross after we held off from attacking and winning the ball back.

Never fear though because despite an annoying habit of conceding an early goal, the reply was fast. In less time than it takes to make a cup of tea, Elise Kellond-Knight neatly placed an inswinging corner into the mixer for Polkinghorne to get a head on it. At this point, I’m in pure relief and back in a happy place. Not only are we level but my wish from the W-League semi-final came true and Polks got her goal! Good vibes were had.

Again, back level, both sides had MORE chances. This half was exhausting guys, both teams were in pursuit of goals, and neither side were content to just hold possession and wait for the other side to crumble. On the 24th minute the wind made itself known, luckily to our advantage. Chloe Logarzo got onto the end of the bobbling, windswept ball that Maria Thorisdottir scoffed, and goal keeper, Ingrid Hjelmseth, couldn’t deal with. It was really a poachers goal, and one that demonstrates the hard work Logarzo consistently puts into.

Best thing of the half? Kellond-Knight’s corners. They were lush. And dangerous. Not only did one lead to the first Aussie goal, but it also helped for the third. It was the clearance from one of her corners that Carpenter was able to place a beautiful, pinpoint ball back into the penalty area. After some lovely play, Lisa De Vanna was able to thread a ball through to Sam Kerr who coolly slotted the ball home.

Half Time. 3-1. I couldn’t have been happier. Especially after the early Thorsnes goal, this was super sweet.

The second half begun. And incase you forgot there was wind. Don’t worry. We remembered. It was now against us, and instead of us having the “extra player” and momentum of the ball, this half it was handed over to Norway. The player for me who caused us the most amount of trouble? Caroline Graham Hansen. She was a complete handful, and really causing havoc for our fullbacks, especially with Logarzo found herself in the back covering.

Early goal conceding wasn’t to be confined to the first half though. After seven minutes, Norway got a corner and it was Norway’s chance to get an assisted goal from the wind. Mackenzie Arnold prevented the initial effort from going in, but only palmed it onto the head of Lisa-Marie Karlseng Utland, who was able to nod it home.

Three – two, Australia ahead.

Game on for Norway. They were in the chase by cutting the deficit in half. What does every fan wish to prevent from happening the moment the opposition gain momentum to chase down the game? A penalty. A flaming easy penalty. We all pray our team doesn’t give away an easy penalty. We weren’t praying hard enough for that this morning though. Ten minutes after Utland’s goal, we gave away an easy penalty. Despite playing so well in spells and going forward, Ellie Carpenter showed her inexperience at 17 years old, to pull down a Norwegian player in the box unnecessarily. Referee of course whistles and points to the spot. Who takes the penalty? None other than Thorsnes. She’s a gun, fools our keeper and the ball is in the back of the net for Norway.

Tied game. 3 all.

For Australia being on top of the game in the first half, Norway had it their way in the second. They came out much more disciplined, able to dictate play, forcing Australia to rely more on the break for goal opportunities. Still, end to end stuff. Both sides through everything they could forward in pursuit of that winning goal. Two times, at least, Norway beat our defence but couldn’t get it past Arnold.

Meanwhile, with the clock ticking down, being thankful Norway couldn’t find another goal, I was thretting. I even thought we had missed it, and the game was bound to end in a draw. Two chances we had to win the game. The first, was some time in the eightieth minute, there was a mess going on in Norway’s box, for the ball to rebound out to Katrina Gorry’s feet. Gorry blasted a shot off, for Kerr to get a guiding touch and the ball was in the back of the net. WOOO! BUT NO. OFFSIDE. Dam. The second shortly afterwards Kerr got through on goal. I’ve seen plenty of times where Kerr would have scored from there in the last year, however she lost her cool at times tonight and just blasted it into the keeper. Bugger.

Extra time. I thought we had blew it. Two chances that could have, maybe should have been a goal. Both missed. However whilst I had ripped up the book with the “never die” mantra in it, obviously the women playing for us didn’t (thank goodness).

There was a corner. It was on the last second of the four additional minutes of the game. The ball was knocked into the box. It was a mess. But somehow Larissa Crummer got a head onto the ball and one point. People say it was then it went over the line. I don’t know. All I do know is that Polkinghorne made sure the ref knew it went over the line, through the mess of keeper hands and defenders, Polks banged it back over the line.

With the last touch of the game (whether it was Crummer’s head or Polkinghorne’s foot) the ball got over the line and WE WON!!! What a way to start your day.

Full Time 4 – 3, to Australia

Overall, something that I am stoked about  and drool just a little bit, is we now possess the ball with confidence and don’t rely on a conservative strategy of shut up shop, defend, defend and hope we get a break for De Vanna to race onto the end of. There were beginnings of this method of play during the 2015 World Cup and has built from strength to strength to now where we play beautiful, confident football. Although I wouldn’t mind a bit more of a lock down in defence (once a defender, always a defender ok).

 

Results

Group A

Australia 4 – 3 Norway

Portugal 2 – 1 China

 

Group B

South Korea 3 – 1 Russia

Canada 1 – 3 Sweden

 

Group C

Denmark 0 – 0 Iceland

Japan 2 – 6 Netherlands

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