Matildas Overcome Kerr Injury, Defeat Ireland 1-0 in World Cup Opener.

Noah Strang
By:
Noah Strang
22/07/2023
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Matildas Win World Cup opener 1-0 over Ireland

Steph Catley converted from the penalty spot as the Matildas took care of Ireland in their World Cup opener. 

News Insights

  • Matildas defeat Ireland 1-0.
  • Catley scores from the penalty spot.
  • Matildas in charge of group B.
  • Kerr’s shocking injury and her outlook moving forward.

Despite the shocking absence of Sam Kerr, the Matildas showed their resilience and depth in their World Cup opening victory against Ireland. The Aussies were able to fight their way to a well-earned 1-0 victory claiming the top spot in group B in the process. 

Matildas Win 1-0 Over Ireland

Looking purely at the match itself and not the pre-match drama, day one of the 2023 Women’s World Cup was a smashing success for the host Matildas. 

Kicking off the tournament in front of a packed house of 75,784 fans at Stadium Australia in Sydney, the Matildas were able to claim all three points in a 1-0 win over the Republic of Ireland. 

The match began with a slow pace as Australia dominated possession and Ireland played a bend but don’t break style of defense. The Matildas were able to conjure up a couple of nice chances but struggled to find that final touch needed to put the ball in the back of the net. 

The best chance of the first half belonged to the Matildas and Hayley Raso. Steph Catley, who was acting as captain due to the absence of Sam Kerr swung a ball across goal and Raso got a solid header on it but pushed it just wide of goal. 

Heading into the halftime break the score was 0-0 and although the Matildas had held 64% of possession, they had yet to test Irelands goalkeeper. 

That changed quite quickly after the break. 

Just six minutes into the second half Kyra Cooney-Cross lofted a ball into the box from a deep midfield position. Ireland’s Marissa Sheva was reckless with a clear and unnecessary shove in the back of Hayley Raso leading to a penalty call from the head referee. 

Steph Catley stepped up to the spot and with the weight of the nation on her shoulders brilliantly executed, whipping the ball into the top left corner as the Irish keeper had no chance of making the save. 

After the goal the match opened up, with Ireland now having to push for a goal rather than sit back and play for a draw. 

Despite some nervous moments in for the Aussies in stoppage time the Irish were unable to find the equalizer as the Matildas took the match 1-0. 

Sam Kerr’s Injury and when to Expect a Return

Despite the victory the result was overshadowed by the pre-match announcement of Sam Kerr’s injury.  

Just one hour before kick-off for the match Kerr was ruled out for at least the countries first two matches due to a calf injury suffered in training. 

The news is a massive blow to the Matildas as Kerr is their captain and one of the best players in world football. Her presence in the attacking third opens countless avenues for the Aussies, and their offensive output will almost certainly diminish in her absence.

Nonetheless, the Aussies got the job done against Ireland and will look to do the same against Nigeria before hopefully having Kerr back for their final group stage game against Canada. 

According to the Matildas, Kerr should be able to return against Canada, but whether she’ll be at or near 100% remains to be seen. 

Group B Outlook

With their opening match win and the 0-0 tie between Canada and Nigeria, Australia is in pole position in group B. The favourites coming in, the Matildas opening result only bolstered their odds of coming out of the group on top. 

Their final match against Canada is still likely to determine who finishes atop the group. Though should they both take care of business in their second matches Australia will only need a tie to win it. 

The 2023 Women’s World Cup is officially underway and despite a tough early injury blow the Matildas were able to come away from their first match with a 1-0 victory and the top spot in group B.