Maybe it couldn’t have been otherwise. After all, the Swedes played their fourth game for third place at a World Cup on Saturday. When they got that far, they always won – in 1991, 2011 and 2019 they had already won bronze. And now they had succeeded again. Ironically against the hostesses. “It’s sad that it’s over. Those were the best four weeks of our career,” said Australia’s record scorer Sam Kerr after the 0-2 (0-1). “It would have been nice if we had left on a high. But we have to think about it and realize how great that is.”
For the Australians, reaching the semi-finals was their best result ever at a World Cup, for both women and men. And they really wanted to end this home tournament, which caused a lot of euphoria in their country, with a medal. Third place would be “a great thing for us and a great thing for this country,” Kerr previously said. “It’s extra motivation to leave a great legacy.”
And maybe it was the thought of this dimension that didn’t let them really come into play in front of the almost 50,000 spectators in Brisbane. The Australians didn’t emit any real danger. The Swedes dominated, looked fresher, acted more confidently. After good chances, however, a penalty kick brought the lead after about half an hour.
Australia’s goalkeeper suspects the right corner – and can not parry the penalty
Stina Blackstenius and Clare Hunt had both fallen in a duel, Blackstenius had previously been hit on the heel by Hunt. Referee Cheryl Foster awarded a penalty after video evidence. Now Fridolina Rolfö and Mackenzie Arnold faced each other. The latter had already experienced this situation more often than average in this tournament: In the quarterfinals against France, a total of 20 shots resulted in a historic penalty shoot-out.
And like so often a few days ago, she jumped into the right corner. Rolfö’s shot to the bottom right to make it 1-0 was too strong and too precise. “It’s a great feeling. We showed from the first minute that we’re the better team,” said the former FC Bayern and VfL Wolfsburg player. “We deserve this medal.”
PM promises one of biggest investments in Australia’s women’s sport
Half an hour later, goalkeeper Arnold was on the ball, but she couldn’t stop it – and that’s how the result of the evening was certain: Kosovare Asllani, who had initiated the play, took a decisive shot from the edge of the penalty area in the 62nd minute, that Australia’s goalkeeper had no chance.
Not only Kerr’s eyes filled with tears afterwards. Prime Minister Anthony Albanese put it in words that they have achieved much more than fourth place at this World Cup in terms of the legacy they want to leave behind: He promised one of the largest investments in women’s sport with 200 million dollars. The money is to be distributed throughout the country for infrastructure and equipment. “The Matildas gave us a moment of national inspiration,” said Albanese. Women’s sport in Australia has been changed forever.