MONTPELLIER, France — With two teams known for a certain level of organized chaos, Thursday’s World Cup group match lived up to the hype. Australia came back from two goals behind and took down Brazil 3-2 during the teams’ second group-stage game of this summer’s tournament.
The match pit two of the best forwards in the world, Australia’s Sam Kerr and Brazil’s Marta, against each other.
And the announced crowd of 17,032 at Stade de la Mosson enjoyed a wild one from start to finish. In a match during which Brazil conceded a goal in group play for the first time since 2003, not only did it allow multiple goals from Australia, but it also gave up an own goal.
Thursday marked the return of Marta, who also plays for the Orlando Pride, and missed Brazil’s first group game against Jamaica because of injury. And as she tends to do, she made her presence felt early.
Her 27th minute penalty kick put Brazil up 1-0 early on. Cristiane followed that up with her own goal in the 39th, a twisting header as she drew away from the only Australian defender nearby.
Australia was on the ropes, but the Matildas pulled one back with a goal from Caitlin Foord in first-half stoppage time. The forward, who also plays for the Portland Thorns, slid to get her foot around a ball in the box after Chloe Logarzo, of the Washington Spirit, headed it in. The finish from Foord not only put Australia on the board right before halftime. It was also the first time a player has scored against Brazil in Women’s World Cup group play since 2003.
Australia pulled even in the 57th minute with a loping shot from distance from Chloe Logarzo – a ball that Kerr couldn’t get on the end of in the box, but one that slammed past Brazil goalkeeper Barbara anyways.
“I don’t know if she [Logarzo] was shooting or crossing but whatever,” Kerr laughed.
“For me, it wasn’t a shot, but I’ll take it,” Logarzo said. “It was definitely a cross to Sam, but Sam did a really good job getting everybody in between and distracting the goalkeeper. A goal’s a goal.”
But it was the next scoring sequence that drew the most scrutiny. In the 69th minute, Australia played a ball over the top to an offside Kerr, surrounded by two defenders. In her effort to clear, Brazil’s Monica instead headed the ball into her own goal. The official went to VAR and determined despite Kerr’s offside position, she never touched the ball and the goal was still awarded to Australia.
As soon as the official made the call, giving Ausralia the 3-2 lead in the 69th minute, the Australian sideline erupted. Players tossed water into the air, and fans went nuts in the stands.
“It was pretty crazy,” Foord said. “To finally get goals and to have the feeling that we’re going to win – we never lost that. That feeling was just amazing, to score goals, and to come back from two-nil.”
The celebration was cathartic for Australia, which was coming off an unexpected 2-1 loss to Italy.
The Matildas will play Jamaica in their last group-stage match on Tuesday. Brazil, meanwhile, will take on Italy the same day.
“I think that win was definitely just for ourselves,” Logarzo said. “We’re not listening to the criticism. We have belief in our team and it doesn’t really matter what anybody else says. … What we have within this team is something special and if no one sees it we definitely have the belief to show them.”