Matildas beat Spain in Cup of Nations

Humiliated by Spain eight months ago, the Matildas survived a late scare to gain sweet revenge on the European heavyweights with a 3-2 Cup of Nations win on Sunday night.

Beaten 7-0 by the rampant Spaniards in June last year when fielding an experimental side in Huelva, the Australians ensured a similar embarrassment wasn’t going to occur on home soil with a dominant first-half display at CommBank Stadium.

The Matildas led 3-0 at halftime thanks to goals from Cortnee Vine, Clare Polkinghorne and Caitlin Foord.

Spain improved in the second half, and were rewarded with a goal from left-back Olga Carmona in the 73rd minute.

A stoppage-time volley from Alba Redondo ensured the hosts had a nervous wait for the final whistle.

However, the Australians held on in front of a crowd of 17,333 to celebrate a second successive Cup of Nations win after last Thursday night’s 4-0 demolition of Czechia in Gosford.

“I don’t know if the second-half was to my liking but it was an exciting game,” Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson told Network 10.

“I don’t think the first-half was a 3-0 half ,,, and I don’t think the second half was as bad as the result showed.

“If we would have had that final pass a couple of times on the break, we could have scored two or three more goals.”

The Matildas only need a draw against Jamaica in Newcastle on Wednesday night to clinch the four-nation tournament.

But nothing less than another victory is likely to satisfy Gustavsson as the Australians seek to maintain winning form ahead of the FIFA Women’s World Cup, which starts in July.

The Matildas dominated from the outset against a Spanish team missing 15 of its best players, including superstar Alexia Putellas, as part of a protest against the ongoing tenure of coach Jorge Vilda.

The hosts were rewarded for their energetic start to the contest with the lead after just 11 minutes.

Winger Hayley Raso laid the ball into the path of fellow attacker Vine, whose first-time strike from just outside the penalty area was too good for Spanish goalkeeper Misa” Rodríguez.

The Australians doubled their lead five minutes later through veteran defender Polkinghorne.

In a continuation of the celebrations from last Thursday night when she scored in her record-breaking Matildas appearance, Polkinghorne again found the back of the net after the Spaniards failed to clear a Raso cross.

Foord put the result beyond doubt in the 42md minute, with the Arsenal attacker taking advantage of some poor Spanish marking to head home a cross from her Gunners teammate Steph Catley.

And it could very well have been 4-0 at halftime, with Matildas captain Sam Kerr having been controversially ruled off-side after finding the back of the net with a header in the 38th minute,

It was a potential fourth goal that was almost needed after Spain’s late comeback, but with the aid of some fine work from goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, the Matildas secured the win they deserved.

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