2021 Women's International Friendly

Australia earn friendly draw with Sweden as Matildas show growth against European heavyweights

Australia's women's team turned in a much-improved performance ahead of the fast-looming Olympic Games to earn a scoreless draw in a friendly against against world No. 5 Sweden on Wednesday.

The Matildas had lost three matches to open the tenure of new coach Tony Gustavsson but they looked far more assured against the Rio 2016 silver medalists in Kalmar.

There were limited clear-cut goal-scoring chances at the either end of the pitch with Sam Kerr's strike against the crossbar the closest to a goal for either side.

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The result follows Friday's 3-2 loss to Denmark, and heavy recent defeats against Germany (5-2) and Netherlands (5-0).

Australia had only recorded a single win in 11 previous match-ups against the Swedes, a side they have been drawn against at next month's Women's Olympic Football Tournament.

Regular goalkeeper Lydia Williams continued her absence allowing Teagan Micah to enjoy an assured first international cap and make a strong case for Olympic Games selection.

Young midfield prospect Kyra Cooney-Cross was given a full debut while regular starter Caitlin Foord made a rare start on the bench.

Also notable was the presence of regular left-back Steph Catley in the centre of defence as Gustavsson continued to try to shore up a defence that had conceded 13 goals in just three matches.

There was experimentation too for Sweden, with the European heavyweights making seven changes to the side which defeated Norway 1-0 on Friday, extending their unbeaten run to 11 matches.

Kyah Simon fired the first shot in anger for Australia on the half-hour mark but failed to fully test Swedish goalkeeper Jennifer Falk.

At the other end, Johanna Kaneryd could easily have put the home side in front just before the break though the forward sprayed her shot just wide after neatly creating space.

Kerr enjoyed little time on the ball but came closest to breaking the deadlock when her fierce shot rattled the crossbar midway through the second half.

The Australian captain however was withdrawn with a quarter of an hour remaining, and Gustavsson again displayed his flexibility by pushing full-back Ellie Carpenter into the No. 9 role.

Aside from Sweden, Australia will also face USA and New Zealand at the Tokyo Olympics, with their opener against the latter on July 21.