Published 7 August 2016 (AEDT)
SÃO PAULO: Australia has shown great character but narrowly missed out on a famous triumph after a 2-2 draw with world number two Germany at Arena Corinthians this evening.
Samantha Kerr and Caitlin Foord’s first half goals were responded to by Sara Daebritz and Saskia Bartusiak, the latter of which occurred in the dying minutes.
Despite coming within moments of a breakthrough result, Australia’s campaign is now back on track somewhat after their heartening show against a women’s football superpower.
“Probably for the fans, a very exciting game to watch,” said coach Alen Stajcic at full time.
“Probably one of the most exciting games I’ve been involved with, with this team but at the end of the day it’s still very frustrating to concede two goals in the times that we did.
“I thought we created enough chances today to win the game, I think Germany are a really fantastic team, a really world-class team and they have some fantastic players.
“But, I thought we did well as well and we could have easily won the game.”
37,475 spectators packed into Arena Corinthians for the encounter and set an electric backdrop that was more than matched by both teams throughout ninety pulsating minutes.
Having felt the wrath of a slow start against Canada three days ago, Australia turned the tables on this occasion, starting emphatically and posting an advantage inside six minutes.
It was a vintage Foord midfield burst that set the scene for Australia’s opener.
The 21-year-old from Wollongong was at her slippery best to evade the attentions of several counterparts before providing Kerr with a well measured through ball.
Kerr fairly slammed her first time effort into the back of the net – Australia’s first women’s football goal at an Olympic Games since Lisa De Vanna’s quarter final effort against Sweden in Patras 12 years ago.
It was De Vanna – the only dual-Olympian in the women’s football ranks – that showcased her peerless quality at this level on the stroke of half time to double Australia’s advantage.
De Vanna nutmegged her opposite before squaring to Foord, who glanced her connection expertly past the advancing German ’keeper.
The two-goal buffer would last only seconds, however, as Germany replied in first half stoppage time through Daebritz to ensure a gripping second stanza.
Both sides traded chances throughout the second period, though seldom did Australia relinquish control of the game to their fancied opponent.
Foord and substitute Michelle Heyman maintained Australia’s attacking threat, while goalkeeper Lydia Williams was equally telling at the opposite end.
Until, Bartusiak equalised from a goalmouth scramble near the end of regulation time to leave the Australians to lament two points dropped, but a point earned nonetheless.
“Now we’re on one point we have to focus on our next performance and get a win against Zimbabwe and hopefully sneak through to the quarter-finals,” said Stajcic.
“One point definitely helps, three would have helped a bit more, but we need to beat Zimbabwe now, we can’t take anything easy.
“Zimbabwe certainly proved a tough opponent, Germany were only beating them 2-1 after 70 minutes the other day and Canada lost the second half today against them, 1-0.
“They’re a tough team, we have to ensure we end up on four points and four points and a good goal difference is possibly a good chance of going through.
“All we can focus on is our next game and recovering from this game and doing the best we can in that one.
“I’m sure if we get to the quarter-finals, we’re a good chance against anyone, just as we showed tonight.”
Australia’s final group match against Zimbabwe will take place at Salvador’s Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova on Tuesday 9 August. Kick off is at 4pm (Wednesday 10 August, 5am AEST).