Matildas draw 1-1 with China in soccer friendly

Steve Larkin |

Cortnee Vine and the Matildas have drawn 1-1 with China in their friendly in Adelaide.
Cortnee Vine and the Matildas have drawn 1-1 with China in their friendly in Adelaide.

A last-minute goal from Michelle Heyman has given the Matildas a 1-1 draw against China in Friday night’s women’s football friendly.

Australia’s coach Tony Gustavsson fielded a largely experimental line-up for the opening hour of the Adelaide Oval fixture.

And they were upstaged by the reigning Asian Cup champions, with China’s Zhang Lynyan scoring in the 30th minute.

But in the 95th minute, Heyman tapped-in from a goalmouth scramble after a Mary Fowler free kick was fumbled by China’s goalkeeper.

Pre-match, Gustavsson said he remained undecided on four spots for the 18-women squad to contest the Paris Olympics starting in late July.

Gustavsson’s starting XI was without big guns Caitlin Foord, Steph Catley, Ellie Carpenter, Hayley Raso and Clare Polkinghorne.

And linchpin Raso lasted just 15 minutes after being brought on in the second half, leaving the field after being felled in a tackle, despite appearing in no great discomfort.

After a tepid opening 29 minutes, China struck on the half-hour when a fast break along the right flank left Australia’s Kaitlyn Torpey one-out with Wurigumula.

As the pair jostled, Torpey slipped and fell to ground – replays showed a slight tug on her jersey from her opponent – and Wurigumula was quick to recover from the contact.

Her cross into the box deflected into the path of Zhang, who scored with a  reflex right footer.

China's Zhang Linyan celebrates a goal.
Zhang Linyan put China ahead on the half hour. (Matt Turner/AAP PHOTOS)

After halftime, Australia showed far greater attacking intent and almost had a reward in the 56th minute when Cortnee Vine swung a cross into the box.

The ball landed near Fowler who was set to pull the trigger and shoot when advancing China keeper Xu Huan knocked the ball away.

Six minutes later, Gustavsson made five substitutions, summoning Catley, Foord, Raso, Carpenter and Kyra Cooney-Cross.

The injection of the Matildas mainstays had instant impact, with the Australians crafting a series of scoring chances.

Raso was among them when turning 360 degrees near the penalty spot but was unable to find space to shoot.

And Fowler, who started on the left wing before being shifted centrally, also had two more opportunities but couldn’t convert.

But with one minute left, the influential Fowler launched a powerful free kick from the side of the area.

Xu fumbled and Heyman duly scored.

The Matildas meet China again in Sydney on Monday night and Gustavsson will announce his Olympic squad the following day.

Australia’s Olympic campaign begins on July 26 (AEST) with a clash against Germany ahead of other group games against Zambia and four-time Olympic gold medallists the United States.