The Matildas were dominant against Canada from start to finish despite the crushing pressure of knowing their home World Cup would have been over if they’d lost in Melbourne following their shock defeat to Nigeria last Thursday.
Hayley Raso scored a double, Mary Fowler should have had two herself but had one controversially ruled offside by the VAR, and stand-in skipper Steph Catley put an exclamation point on proceedings with a late penalty.
It was the biggest win by a Matildas side at any World Cup – and even better, the Aussies were so firmly in control that injured superstar Sam Kerr never had to be called on.
Here’s how Daily Mail Australia rated the home team…
Australia’s stars refused to wilt under the spotlight as they beat Canada 4-0
Mackenzie Arnold: 8.5
Made a few poor errors last game that may have dented the confidence, but ‘Macca’ was back at her best in this match, pulling off a couple of crucial saves but also returning to the brilliant distributor she had been.
Ellie Carpenter: 6
Brilliant to see the Lyon star at least back to some decent form. She is such a talented player – one of the best in the world – but where has that spark gone? Carpenter was determined to defend better than the diabolical Nigeria match, and she certainly did that, but Aussies want to see the superstar they fell in love with.
Clare Hunt: 8.5
The girl from the tiny town of Grenfell (NSW), was mammoth. Not many better players on the field than Hunt, who has well and truly played Kennedy and Polkinhorne out of the first-choice CB spot. The challenges she won, the time she won them and the distribution she afforded those ahead of her were phenomenal. She won’t want the attention but she was as important as any Aussie player.
Alanna Kennedy: 6.5
Many expected her to concede her place to Clare Polkinghorne, but Gustavsson picked his most talented centre back. While she didn’t reach the heights of a brilliant game against Ireland, she was calmer than the Ireland match and despite a few passing errors she was
Steph Catley: 8.5
Goodness, has the stand-in skipper stood up or what? Faded, as expected given the state of the match, as the game went on but the Arsenal jet was at her lethal best down the left – setting up the opening goal with an exquisite touch. Then came the defensive grunt – she was strong.
Hayley Raso: 9
Hayley Raso established why Real Madrid chose to sign her with a sensational performance
Hang it in the Louvre. The fan favourite celebrating a goal that sent the entire nation nuts to open the scoring was one thing – but the new Real Madrid signee kept showing her new Galactico club why they brought her in. Relentless as always but her positioning and nous were brilliant, and she seemed to regain confidence and composure with her first touch, and the fact she, yet again, often finished behind Carpenter showed how hard she worked.
Katrina Gorry: 7
Not the workhorse’s greatest match, with a fair few very, heavy touches, but the side is so much better for her in it, regardless. Looks to be very sore, and will be more crucial than Sam Kerr when it comes to the playoffs. Worked herself sore, and chased every mistake.
Kyra Cooney-Cross: 7.5
A brilliant distributor, Gorry might have been the side’s most important passer, but this Young Matilda has been sensational. Did she get found out? Don’t think so. She never looks flustered, but has a better touch than her veteran counterpart.
Emily Van Egmond: 6
Flirted between centre midfield and forwards, and wasn’t much of an influence in either. But she certainly didn’t let anyone down, despite not posing much of a threat.
Caitlin Foord: 9
The happiest person in the Australian side Mary Fowler could play. The shackles were unleashed and the Arsenal star looked like a different player, free of the huge burden she looked to shoulder in the Nigeria loss. The first touch, the through balls…the effort chasing back in defence – she was a woman possessed.
Mary Fowler: 9
Fowler was unlucky not to have two goals on the night but will be a threat going forwards
One thing’s for sure, when Sam Kerr (hopefully) lines up in the Round of 16, Mary Fowler will be there either way. What a stunning performance. The first touch, the dribbling, the passing… it’s all Mary’s world and we are just living in it.
Clare Polkinghorne: N/A
Subbed on late, as she has the last two, and fortunately didn’t need to make a difference in this one.