Sam Kerr and Australia qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, winning 2-1 in Vietnam to complete a resounding 7-1 aggregate triumph in the play-offs. Millie Bright and Carly Telford play in England’s final SheBelieves Cup fixture against Spain, a match which ended in a disappointing 1-0 defeat.
The Matildas had basically already booked a place in this summer’s Olympic games following their ruthless 5-0 triumph against Vietnam in the first leg last week. Kerr, who scored a brace in that match, was on target again today to put the outcome beyond doubt.
The Chelsea forward put her side ahead with a clinical side-footed volley with only 15 minutes played. The goal was Kerr’s 42nd in green and gold and it confirmed her as second in the Matildas’ all-time scorers list with only Lisa De Vanna’s record of 47 to aim for now.
Just 12 minutes later Kerr turned provider and set up the second for Hayley Raso. The Matildas skipper unselfishly squared the ball to her team-mate to calmly slot home from close-range.
Vietnam reduced the deficit, and reclaimed some pride, early in the second half when Huynh Nhu snatched on a slack back-pass to lob home from 35 yards, but Australia were able to see out the match in comfort knowing that their place at Tokyo 2020 was assured.
Ji So-Yun and South Korea were due to take part in the other Asian Football Confederation Olympic play-off against China PR but that has been postponed until June due to coronavirus concerns.
Bright retained her starting place in England’s back-line meaning she has played in all three SheBelieves Cup games, but the Chelsea vice-captain made way for Steph Houghton at half-time. Telford returned in between the sticks and Bethany England did not feature against Spain at all tonight due to a slight ankle strain.
The England team went into the interval 0-0 and despite having a number of opportunities missed, were the better side in the first 45 minutes.
Spain grew into the game in the second half and Telford made a superb save to deny Ainhoa Moraza on the hour mark. The Spanish striker charged towards goal and twisted past Houghton, but Telford closed down Moraza’s shot by coming out quickly and making herself big.
The Blues goalkeeper made yet another crucial save in the closing stages of the game, but with seven minutes left of play an excellent header from Alexia Putellas put Spain ahead. Putellas was given far too much time and space in the box and she sent a bullet header flying past the outstretched Telford to result in England’s seventh defeat in their last 11 games.
Two losses out of three means that England have failed to retain the SheBelieves Cup and finish second. The result means that tournament hosts the USA have clinched the trophy without even having to play their final match against Japan tonight.
Our international players will return to Cobham over the next few days as we prepare to take on Everton on Sunday for a semi-final place of the Women’s FA Cup.
The Blues are next in action at Kingsmeadow on Sunday 22 March against this weekend's opponents Everton in the Women's Super League. Kick-off is at 2pm and tickets can be purchased here.