Nothing stopping Australia from World Cup semis - Priestman

Recapping Australia's incredible night vs. Canada (0:58)

Marissa Lordanic looks back on a huge night for Australia as they beat Canada 4-0 to advance to the knockout stages of the World Cup. (0:58)

MELBOURNE, Australia -- After watching on as her side was bundled out of the FIFA Women's World Cup by a rampant Australia, Canada coach Bev Priestman believes that there's "nothing stopping" the Matildas from staging a run to the semifinals of the tournament.

Entering play at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium, Australia needed a win to guarantee their progression to the knockout stages, in contrast to Canada only needing a draw. It took just nine minutes for the Matildas to flip the script and seize the initiative on Sunday when Hayley Raso, after VAR review, put them ahead.

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Across the subsequent 81 minutes Priestman's side hardly looked like they were capable of laying a glove on their opponents as the Australians began to dictate terms: falling into a two-goal deficit just before halftime when Raso grabbed her second before crashing into a four-goal hole when Mary Fowler and Steph Catley sent in second-half strikes.

When the dust settled, the Australians had bounced back from a sobering 3-2 defeat to Nigeria to secure a 4-0 win and were moving onto the round of 16 as the top-placed finishers in Group B.

The Canadians meanwhile, were going home -- the first-ever reigning Olympic champions to be bundled out in the group stages of the subsequent World Cup.

Appearing somewhat taken aback by her side's capitulation when she fronted media, Priestman was nonetheless generous in her praise of the Matildas, saying that her side didn't have any answers for the questions they asked and stating that, if they were able to maintain their level of belief throughout the tournament, that they should be able to stage a deep run.

"These moments define you, I know that from [the] Tokyo [Olympics]," she said. "That result, they're going to be riding a massive high. They've turned things around in one game and they were brave and they went for it and changed things.

"Australia is a top, top side and I've said that from the start. There's nothing stopping them from pushing through this because they should be probably in the top four of a World Cup."

In contrast to Priestman's acknowledgment of a lack of belief amongst her charges, Australian coach Tony Gustavsson was effusive in his celebrations of the character and clarity of purpose of his outfit.

Asked about the effect of Raso's early goal shifting the game state into one that favoured his side, the Swede was quick to make clear that, even if it helped, he "knew" what the outcome of the game would have been even without it.

"I never ever doubted the players in terms of stepping out there today and performing well," he said. "We knew it was going to be tough, but the performance I knew was going to be solid.

"I knew it three days ago when we had those [post-Nigeria] meetings and those talks and the commitment and the unity and how they united for this performance. Yesterday I said that a couple of players wished the game was that day. So, I knew that they were ready.

"Even if we wouldn't have scored early, I actually think it would have been looking good anyway because they were so convinced and so ready to step up tonight."

Gustavsson had come under significant pressure following the defeat against Nigeria, acknowledging on Sunday that his side failing to get out of the group stages in a home World Cup would represent an unequivocal "failure."

But with his job almost certainly on the line, his move to bring Fowler into the side in a central and shift Caitlin Foord out to the left, proved one of the key factors in the result.

Combining with regular ease, Arsenal teammates Catley and Foord both played integral roles in the build-up to multiple goals, while Fowler arguably played her best game in a Matildas shirt.

"Credit to Australia. I know [Gustavsson] has been under a massive amount of criticism and pressure, and he was brave and good on him," said Priestman. "Australia were the better team tonight."