Gee. This game was like taking an exam full of questions you have just revised but still come up blank when you have to put pen to paper. Frustrating. It was why did I wake up for this, only for the Matildas would I put myself through this at 2am, frustrating. The good? We got to blood in a couple of inexperienced players and players coming back from injury also got a start, with the likes of Michelle Heyman and Larissa Crummer getting starts. The bad? I’m the last to usually bag out a referee, I know how hard it is. But the officiating in this game just wasn’t up to scratch. They were well out of their depth, and it showed. That doesn’t take away from the fact Portugal came out with a game plan and executed it to a tee. But still some poor decisions didn’t help our cause.
Portugal v Australia
Always a tough task to play against the home side in any tournament. Perhaps just as tough as it is to wake up [and stay up] at 2am to watch it. Immediately it became apparent, even with groggy eyes, this game was destined be physical. Early fouls had me hoping it wasn’t a sign to come (it was).
With fouls piling up, it was only a matter of time for a penalty call. And it came early for us, not even ten minutes in Chloe Logarzo got sent flying on the edge of the box. The whistle went, I was counting my lucky stars, an early penalty to settle our nerves. BUT NOPE. Foul, but the referee was pointing outside of the box. Blind Freddy saw that was inside. The Portuguese defender would have even told you it was inside the box. Instead it’s a free kick on the edge of the right side of the box, and the Emily Van Egmond strike nearly goes in, but just misses.
The Portuguese game plan seemed to be, play deep in defence, don’t let any forwards have the freedom to run behind the defence, and foul any midfielders who look to run with the ball to create anything. AKA game plan frustrate. It worked. With the two chances Heyman had to receive the ball behind the defence being (wrongly) called offside. Credit where credit is due, Portugal didn’t look to play defensive, they were happy to move the ball forward. However our defence looked solid, with only one real chance for Portugal, after a nifty run allowed Diana Silva through on goal, but that is where Lydia Williams stepped up to ensure the shot went nowhere near the goal.
Final it was half time. I should have gone to sleep at this point. My stubborness ensured I didn’t. Further frustration was Fox Sports halftime package. I know it’s barely three am but watching clips on the men’s football is crap. I know asking for some analysis on the game at halftime might be a big ask for this tournament, but surely they’ve got some clips from the just finished W-League season to show at this time? Fox Sports need to do better.
Back to the game. The second half begins and the big guns are out. Both Sam Kerr and Lisa De Vanna are subbed on after a solid spell by Heyman and Crummer. To my dismay, the game set off right where it stopped at half time. Australia just not being urgent or composed enough on the ball, and Portugal happy to frustrate us. Adding to our woes, the addition of Kerr and LDV didn’t help create more opportunities. We were still cut off from connecting the ball from midfield to attack efficiently and just couldn’t get behind the defence to cause any true threat. One shining moment, if only briefly, was the introduction of Emily Condon. Despite coming off the field five minutes after being subbed in due to picking up a knock, she looked lively and could have made a real difference had she been able to stay on the field for longer.
The bad calls continued on during the second half. I was seriously considering starting a go fund me campaign to get all three officials glasses.
To signify the whole game was in the last minutes Kerr being fouled on a break away, for the resulting free kick to be skied by Alana Kennedy. We just weren’t meant to win this game. Still, there was hope right up to the last kick. A corner called on extra time of extra time. We got one against Norway this way, why not again? Well it was false hope. The corner didn’t result in any real danger.
Full Time. Nil, Nil.
Frustrating. I knew from last years Euro’s game between Portugal and England that Portugal is a team who can really frustrate teams. But gee I still underestimated it. I’ve mentioned the poor officiating and Portugal pulling off their game plan ridiculously well, but overall we just didn’t play the way we’re use to. Our play didn’t have enough urgency, we weren’t composed enough on the ball and no one was able to produce that necessary spark to sway the game. Hopefully we can put this game behind us, and move forward to our next game against old foes China.
Portugal 0 – 0 Australia || China 0 – 2 Norway
Russia 0 – 1 Canada || Sweden 1 – 1 South Korea
Japan 2 – 1 Iceland || Denmark 2 – 3 Netherlands