2021 Women's International Friendly
  • Mackenzie Arnold (3' OG)
  • Denise O'Sullivan (23')
  • Louise Quinn (49')
  • Mary Fowler (14', 45'+1')

Matildas slump in Ireland loss despite Sam Kerr's 100th cap, Mary Fowler's brace

The Matildas have made a disappointing return to international football, slumping to a 3-2 loss to the Republic of Ireland in Sam Kerr's 100th cap.

Exciting young gun Mary Fowler scored a first-half brace and was a shining light at Tallaght Stadium but Australia's defensive issues proved their downfall, while they will also sweat on a knee injury to Chloe Logarzo.

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Australia were missing a collective of starting players, including Caitlin Foord, Ellie Carpenter, Emily van Egmond, Hayley Raso and Kyah Simon in their first game since the Tokyo Olympics.

Goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, who didn't feature in Tokyo, returned to the fold while Courtney Nevin made her starting debut in defence.

The Matildas dominated possession but struggled to deal with Ireland's frenetic counter-attacks -- and after just three minutes, were a goal down.

Kyra Cooney-Cross gave away a free kick in a dangerous area and Lucy Quinn tried her luck on goal directly from the free kick. It looped over the wall, bounced off the near post, then ricocheted off Arnold into goal. The Matildas settled into the game after the goal, then hit back in the 14th minute.

Emily Gielnik one-touched Nevin's long ball into the path of Fowler, who tried her luck from range and saw her shot squirm through the hands of goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan. Alanna Kennedy was inches from a calamitous own goal when she smashed a header into her own crossbar in the 20th minute.

Three minutes later, Ireland regained the lead when former W-League star Denise O'Sullivan capitalised on a poor defensive clearance, with her strike taking a heavy deflection and wrong-footing Arnold.

The Matildas had plenty of chances to equalise but left it to injury-time in the first half, with Fowler's ambitious strike taking a heavy deflection to put Australia back on level footing.

Lydia Williams replaced Arnold at half-time -- but four minutes into the second half, Louise Quinn capitalised on a total lack of defensive pressure to score the easiest of back post headers from a corner.

Logarzo injured her knee in a challenge in the 53rd minute, which saw midfielder Clare Wheeler make her debut. Coach Tony Gustavsson also handed debuts to Wheeler's Fortuna Hjorring teammate Angela Beard and fellow defender Charlotte Grant.

Kerr looked isolated for much of the second half and received a yellow card after kicking the ball away in frustration following a foul in the 75th minute, with the Matildas left to rue their failure to find clear-cut avenues to goal.