Matildas shrug off abuse scrutiny to beat Brazil 3-1
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Sydney (AFP) – Clare Polkinghorne, Mary Fowler and Emily Van Egmond all scored as the Matildas overpowered Brazil 3-1 Saturday, shrugging off a difficult few weeks marred by allegations of harassment and abuse in Australian football.
In their first home match for 19 months, they went to the break in Sydney with a 1-0 lead after veteran Polkinghorne side-footed home from close range, set up by a Sam Kerr assist.
Fowler doubled their lead on 66 minutes with a pinpoint header before Brazil struck back almost immediately through substitute Adriana.
The introduction of Brazilian great Marta with 20 minutes left gave the visitors added momentum in front of a raucous crowd before Van Egmond's late strike sealed the win.
It was a much-needed victory for Australia, who had tasted victory just twice in 12 games since Swede Tony Gustavsson took over as coach.
Gustavsson said before the kick-off it would be a test of how they cope with the pressure and scrutiny after allegations this month by retired Matildas player Lisa De Vanna rocked the game.
The 36-year-old, who played 150 times for Australia, revealed she was regularly subject to predatory behaviour early in her career.
Former teammate Rhali Dobson also said she had been a target of historic sexual harassment, sparking an independent review by Sport Integrity Australia which will start taking submissions next week from anyone wanting to report misconduct.
The allegations are not isolated.
Women footballers globally have detailed similar claims, although Matildas players issued a joint statement last week insisting the current team environment was a "safe haven," praising its "inclusive and supportive culture".
The two sides meet again in Sydney on Tuesday in another friendly as Australia build towards the Asian Cup in India early next year.
© 2021 AFP