When the Westfield Matildas laid down a marker in Penrith and Newcastle
It’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment the Westfield Matildas commanded the attention of football fans around the world.
But 2017’s clashes against Brazil in Penrith and Newcastle were among the leading highlights in Australia’s sensational 18-month journey from contenders to world superpowers.
The Westfield Matildas welcomed the South American heavyweights to Panthers Stadium and McDonald Jones Stadium in September last year on the back of a historic Tournament of Nations triumph.
And what followed was yet more evidence that Alen Stajcic’s record-breaking side were onto something special.
This time around, the Westfield Matildas host another South American outfit in Penrith and Newcastle, looking to nail their 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup ambitions to the mast against Chile.
A record breaking day in Penrith
There was a rich sense of occasion when Australia and Brazil took to the Panthers Stadium pitch in Sydney’s west on September 16, 2017.
Stajcic’s side had torn Brazil apart 6-1 a month earlier at the Tournament of Nations, and what followed was another thrilling performance in front of a record-breaking crowd.
The sell-out attendance was stunned by a sensational volley from Lisa De Vanna and, when Sam Kerr doubled the advantage in the second half, the baying Penrith crowd exploded.
Kerr left the field to a standing ovation and the sense of achievement that resonated around the ground at the full-time whistle was palpable for both players and fans.
Westfield Matildas make it a hat-trick over Brazil in Newcastle
If the scenes in Penrith had broke new ground, the fact the Westfield Matildas backed it up in the Hunter mere days later was testament to their superstar quality.
ON THE MOVE: Where are our Westfield Matildas heading in 2018-19?
Almost 17,000 people turned up on a school night at McDonald Jones Stadium as Kerr inspired Australia to another win over Brazil - their third in a row.
Kerr scored twice and set up Caitlin Foord’s goal as she cemented her status as one of the best players in the world.
It completed a remarkable couple of days for Australian football.
Only three years earlier, the Westfield Matildas played Brazil in a pre-AFC Asian Cup friendly in Brisbane in front of 2,500 fans.
As the man behind the team's evolution, Stajcic remembers the feat as one of the greatest recent moments in Australian sport.
“To think of the crowds we had here and the atmosphere we had here last year... they were really special moments for me personally being a local Penrith boy," Alen Stajcic told www.matildas.com.au.
"But for Australian football and for the Matildas they were just such special, magical moments that transcended what we’ve seen in Australian football in the last period of time.”
With Chile set to arrive in two months, who knows how far the Westfield Matildas will raise the bar this time?