2020 Olympic Women's Soccer, Group Stage
  • Tameka Yallop (20')
  • Sam Kerr (33')
  • Gabi Rennie (90'+1')

Olympics 2020: Chelsea's Sam Kerr excels as Australia overcome New Zealand

The Matildas got their Tokyo Olympics campaign off to a near-perfect start, holding off a fast-finishing New Zealand to kick-off the tournament with a 2-1 win.

Chelsea forward Sam Kerr provided the assist for Tameka Yallop's opener and scored in an excellent captain's performance at Tokyo Stadium to secure Australia's first win under Tony Gustavsson.

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The Matildas had entered their Olympics opener winless in five games and after a scratchy start, burst to life and dominated the clash. New Zealand goalkeeper Erin Nayler made a quick-reaction save to stop defender Abby Erceg putting Ellie Carpenter's cross into her own net in the 17th minute.

Three minutes later, the Matildas capitalised on their dominance and snatched the lead through some delightful one-touch football. Yallop pounced on a turnover, worked the ball to Kyah Simon and burst forward. Simon cleverly headed the ball on to Kerr who flicked it to Yallop, with the midfielder taking a touch then smashing the ball into the roof of the net.

Then, in the 33rd minute, Steph Catley whipped a powerful corner into the near post where Kerr smacked a thumping header home off the crossbar for a commanding 2-0 lead, ending her five-game scoring drought.

Simon spurned a golden opportunity to add a third when she hit a chance straight at Nayler in the 47th minute and Kerr put a backheel just wide three minutes later. It proved to be the tale of the second half as the Matildas had plenty of chances but were unable to extend their lead, largely due to Nayler making several sharp saves and a drop off in intensity.

Exciting teenagers Mary Fowler and Kyra Cooney-Cross made their Olympics debuts in the 75th minute but neither were able to find a goal.

In the first minute of injury time, the Football Ferns snatched a consolation goal on the counter. Ria Percival headed a cross back across goal for substitute Gabi Rennie, who nodded the ball home just two minutes into her international debut, forcing the Matildas to scramble to lock up all three points.

The Matildas next face Sweden on Saturday, who are coming off a scintillating 3-0 win over the United States.