Understrength Matildas hammered by Spain in 7-0 friendly defeat
- Floodgates open in second half in Huelva
- Matildas missing host of regular starters
In their first international meeting with world No 7 Spain, an experimental Australia slumped to a 7-0 defeat in the Matildas’ heaviest loss in 25 years, a year out from a Women’s World Cup on home soil.
Tony Gustavsson’s side, who were missing a host of regular starters including captain Sam Kerr, went in at half-time just one goal down, after their resistance was finally broken in the 44th minute by Aitana Bonmatí.
But after the break the visitors fell apart, and when Mariona Caldentey found the back of the net in the 48th minute, the floodgates opened. Esther González added a third before Lucía García scored her first of the game as Spain took a 4-0 lead within 10 minutes of the restart.
García added her second of the night before Irene Guerrero bagged two for herself as full-time approached and Spain continued their preparations ahead of the upcoming Women’s Euros in style.
For the Matildas, it was their biggest defeat since falling to the US 9-1 in 1997, and equalled a 7-0 rout at the hands of China in 1988.
The likes of Kerr, Ellie Carpenter, Steph Catley, Kyah Simon, Mary Fowler, Alana Kennedy and Caitlin Foord were missing for the game in Huelva, with a number of fresh faces drafted in.
Taylor Ray and Jamilla Rankin both made their debuts as Gustavsson made eight changes to the side that defeated New Zealand 3-1 in Canberra last month and experimented with five at the back.
Former Socceroo Andy Harper questioned the wisdom is pitting such an understrength side against one of the world’s most formidable teams with a year to go before the World Cup.
“A lot of people, devotees of the Matildas … will be thinking, ‘Why this, why now?’” Harper told Channel Ten. “That’s the question that will be reverberating.
“You’re playing against Spain away from home a year out from the World Cup. Iron sharpens iron — so this was iron vs wood, with the greatest of respect.
“That second-half collapse is not a discredit to our team, but by my count there are four or maybe five girls out of the NSW NPL (National Premier League). And so a year out from the World Cup, is that when we see if girls playing at that level of football can take on six of the top 30 players in the world?
“This might have been 20 games ago to start rifling through the options. Nevertheless it is what it is for today, and so now he [Gustavsson] has got to pull the team together … but how much damage might have been done today?”
Australia play Portugal next on Wednesday AEST in another friendly.