Westfield Matildas through to Asian Cup semi-finals
Westfield Matildas too strong for DPR Korea as they secure qualification to semis after 3-1 win
The Westfield Matildas have produced a scintillating second half performance to beat Korea Republic 3-1 and ensure qualification to the semi-finals of the AFC Women-s Asian Cup in Chengdu, China.
A second-half 15 minute flurry of goals in ensured Australia took out the Group B match with Kim Carroll, Lisa De Vanna and Sam Kerr all getting their names on the score sheet.
A late goal from Kang Sun Mi made for a tense finale to the match but resolute defending from a determined Westfield Matildas outfit meant the points, and semi-final qualification, remained theirs.
16-year-old Teigen Allen showed composure well beyond her years to start her first ever match for the Westfield Matildas following a debut on Wednesday night when she came on with an assured confidence to help the Australian team to a 2-nil win over Vietnam.
Australia started powerfully, dominating midfield play with Clare Polkinghorne, Heather Garriock and Collette McCallum looking confident, directing play and shutting down the Korean-s play.
Korea Republic looked dangerous on the break, stretching the Westfield Matildas defense and ensuring the Aussies stayed on their toes.
Striker, Lisa De Vanna, looked dangerous throughout the first half linking up well with Garriock on the left side of Australia-s attack.
In the 17th minute a penetrating run from De Vanna from just inside the Korean half was stopped illegally by Kim Do Yeon with Collette McCallum-s resulting free-kick testing the Korea Republic keeper Kim Jung Mi.
Possession was shared equally in the first half with both teams making their fair share of attacking raids.
Kim Carroll did well to stop a dangerous Korea Republic attack in the 19th minute putting in a strong challenge to stop Jung Hae In who forced her way into the Australian six-yard box.
Elise Kellond-Knight did well to control the efforts of Jeon Ga Eul with the Korean midfielder-s continual attempts to get past the Australian defender a constant threat.
The Westfield Matildas were on the receiving end of some very nervous moments midway through the first half with Australia defending hard from a procession of Korea Republic corners with defenders Servet Uzunlar and Lauren Colthorpe both having to assist in clearing the ball from the line.
In the 24th minute De Vanna and Allen linked up well to create one of the best chances of the first half with Garriock unable to convert her turn and shot.
Korea continued to pressure winning the ball from midfield with their transition play stretching the Westfield Matildas but stanch defense from the Aussies allowed little reward for their attacks.
The Westfield Matildas were again on the attack when in the 36th minute Kellond-Knight held the ball strongly near the Korea Republic corner flag and played an inch perfect pass to Garriock whose curling ball in found towering striker Kate Gill but her header could not find the target.
Australia went into the break the stronger of the two sides having a host of chances in the first half.
The second half began even more intensely with the Westfield Matildas intent on converting their chances into goals.
In the 51st minute Kellond-Knight hit a long range shot that forced Jung Mi to tip the ball over the bar.
From the resulting corner Garriock swung the ball into a dangerous area with Kim Carroll controlled her volley perfectly to score her first goal for the Westfield Matildas and open up a 1-nil lead.
Five minutes later and a brilliant strike from Kwon Hah Nul was saved equally well by Westfeild Matildas goalkeeper Melissa Barbieri who was a rock throughout the match for the Australian team.
On the 56 minute mark the Westfield Matildas saw the welcome return of Sarah Walsh on for the commendable Allen.
Walsh was immediately in the action when she was caught offside by the smallest margin from a Garriock through ball.
Colthorpe was again on the spot when she was forced to make a goal saving tackle when Korea were through with a two-on-one in Australia-s box.
The action returned straight up the other end when some classy control from Walsh, with what was her first touch of the game, played in De Vanna who hit her shot well with Jung Mi pulling off a fantastic block.
De Vanna couldn-t be stopped however calmly slotting in the rebound past the stranded keeper.
Another fine cross from Kellond-Knight found Walsh free in the box but her first time effort was expertly parried by Jung Mi.
Korea-s efforts continued on goal but were fruitless with Barbieri looking assured between the uprights.
With her first touch of the game youngster Sam Kerr, on as a substitute for Lisa De Vanna, put the result beyond doubt finding the net following a goalmouth scramble from a McCallum corner.
However Korea Repubic never looked likely to concede the victory and Hae In made another stinging strike but Barbieri somehow made the save look very comfortable.
Australia-s defense was finally breached when So Hyun knocked in a looping free-kick into area with Kang Sun Mi rising highest to place a powerful header beyond the reach of a fully stretched Barbieri.
Late in the game Polkinghorne, who-d been an unstoppable force in the Westfield Matildas midfield, was left with a possible broken nose after almost latching onto a through ball in the Korean box.
After an intense 75 minutes Australia started to look tired with the Koreans mounting somewhat of a resurrection in their attacks.
Westfield Matildas Head Coach Tom Sermanni brought on Sally Shipard for Collette McCallum to strengthen the Australian-s defensive stocks and the move proved valuable with Australia having to hold out for a desperate final 10 minutes which included an incredible five minutes of extra time.
Desperation defending in the final minutes kept Australia-s lead in tact and ensured qualification for the semi-finals.
The Westfield Matildas play China on Friday at 6pm AEST, live and exclusive on ABC 2.
Click below to see Coach Tom Seremanni's views of how they got on. Footage from ABC