Korea send Matildas packing from Asian Cup

Justin Chadwick |

Sam Kerr endured a rare off night in front of goal as the Matildas crashed out of the AFC Women’s Asian Cup with a shock 1-0 quarter-final loss to Korea Republic.

Kerr had a series of golden opportunities early in Sunday’s match in Pune, and she fluffed another chance at the death when Australia needed a goal to send the match into extra time.

Korea grimly held on despite being absolutely dominated, and their determination paid off in the 87th minute when Ji Soyun unleashed a mesmerising strike from outside the box into the top right hand corner of the net.

The result was a cruel blow for the Matildas, who had dominated the group stage on the way to scoring 24 goals and conceding just one.

It’s also a major wake-up call for the Matildas ahead of the 2023 World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The Matildas were left furious by a number of referee decisions throughout Sunday’s match, but ultimately it was their failure to capitalise on their glut of chances that cost them victory.

Australia had five golden chances inside the opening 20 minutes, with four of them falling to Kerr.

Kerr combined with Emily van Egmond for a clever one-two in the fourth minute, but her close-range shot lacked power and was easily saved.

Her lob from the edge of the box three minutes later sailed high, and a marginal offside call robbed her of being awarded a penalty in the 17th minute.

Kerr was left feeling even more frustrated in the 20th minute when her header hit the post.

After surviving the glut of the Matildas chances, Korea finally worked their way into the match and were awarded a lucky penalty in the 39th minute.

VAR was brought into play after Matildas hard nut Caitlin Foord bowled over midfielder Lee Geummin in a strong but fair tackle

It took five minutes for first VAR and then referee Qin Liang to make a decision, with Foord left stunned when the penalty was awarded.

Cho So Hyun stepped up to take the penalty, but she fired her shot high above the crossbar to the relief of Australia.

Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams pulled off a stunning save in the 51st minute to deny Lee Geummin from point-blank range.

Williams dove full length to her left a few minutes later to produce another clutch save to deny Cho.

Matildas players were left fuming when Steph Catley’s arm was pulled back in the box in the 60th minute but no penalty was forthcoming.

Despite the evident nature of the foul, it wasn’t looked at by VAR.

Out of nowhere, Ji pulled out a cracker from long range to put Korea Republic through to the semi-finals. 

The Matildas had one final chance to send the mach into extra time, but Kerr couldn’t connect properly with a close-range shot, and Hayley Raso’s toe poke went just wide.