Korea sends Matildas packing from Asian Cup

The Matildas' injury concerns have presented coach Tony Gustavsson a series of tough calls.

The Matildas' injury concerns have presented coach Tony Gustavsson a series of tough calls. Photo: AAP

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson has accepted full responsibility for his side’s AFC Women’s Asian Cup flop and hopes he is given the chance to make amends.

Australia’s hopes of winning the Women’s Asian Cup for the second time were brought to a crashing halt on Sunday when the Matildas suffered a shock 1-0 quarter-final loss to Korea Republic in Pune.

It was the Matildas’ worst finish at an Asian Cup, and has heaped massive pressure on Gustavsson just 18 months out from the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

“I know the pressure is going to be on me. I take full ownership of the result tonight,” Gustavsson said.

“People are going to criticise me, which I think is fair. But I also hope they do that by looking at the performance as well, so it’s a fair criticism.”

Glut of golden chances

The Matildas dominated the match but were made to pay for missing a glut of golden chances – most of which fell to star striker Sam Kerr.

Korea’s determination paid off in the 87th minute when Chelsea star Ji So-yun unleashed a mesmerising strike from outside the box into the top right hand corner of the net.

The Matildas were left furious by a number of controversial referee decisions throughout Sunday’s match.

Matildas striker Sam Kerr missed several good scoring opportunities against Korea that proved costly. Photo: Getty

Kerr was denied a penalty due to a marginal offside call in the 17th minute, and Korea were awarded a spot kick in the 38th minute after Caitlin Foord bowled over midfielder Lee Geummin in a strong but fair tackle.

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

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.

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

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

The biggest miss for Kerr came in the 76th minute, when she pushed her shot wide from close range with plenty of net to aim for.

“Knowing Sam, she’s going to try to take responsibility for this loss,” Gustavsson said.

“You don’t need to apologise Sam. Sam’s a rock star. She’s our captain, she always carries the team on her shoulders.

“It’s not her fault, it’s a team performance. It’s a team losing.

“If someone should be criticised it’s me, not Sam.”

Two-time defending champion Japan booked its place in the semi-finals of the Women’s Asian Cup with a 7-0 thrashing of Thailand.



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