The Matildas have missed out on the bronze medal at the FIFA Women’s World Cup after losing 2-0 to Sweden at Brisbane Stadium on Saturday night.
A controversial VAR review in the first half allowed Fridolina Rolfo to score from the penalty spot before Kosovare Asllani sealed the result with a cracking strike in the second half.
Superstar captain Sam Kerr sent shockwaves through all of Australia when she went down injured in the closing stages, but she heroically played the game out despite being in obvious pain.
Despite the defeat, the fourth-place finish is the best any Australian team has achieved at a Women’s World Cup.
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson stuck with the same line-up as the semi-final, but the co-hosts immediately started on the back foot.
Matildas players after the loss to Sweden. Credit: Getty Images
Swedish striker Stina Blackstenius had a big chance in the opening minute, but Mackenzie Arnold was on hand to save brilliantly down low to her right.
The Swedes dominated the early stages, although Hayley Raso nearly gave the Matildas the lead.
Raso was on the end of a cross from Ellie Carpenter after a well-worked play that involved Katrina Gorry, but her shot was comfortably saved by Zecira Musovic.
Sam Kerr delivers stirring message to adoring fans
Matildas’ heartwarming act in lap of honour full of tears
Clare Hunt produced a number of telling interceptions for the Matildas, but was at fault for the penalty after she accidentally clipped the heels of Blackstenius in the penalty area.
It was harsh on Hunt, but the referee had no hesitation in awarding the spot kick after seeing all the angles in the VAR review. Rolfo stepped up and while Arnold guessed right, she couldn’t stop the powerful strike.
Arnold produced a stunning save to deny Kosovare Asllani from close range before Kerr’s thunderbolt was stopped by her Chelsea teammate Musovic.
The Matildas began the second half brightly as they pushed for an equaliser, but quickly began to tire as toll of the past month began to show.
Sweden took full advantage with a cracking counter-attack that effectively ended the match.
Blackstenius was put through on goal, but cut back for Asllani, who unleashed a cracking shot from 18 yards that left Arnold with no chance in goal.
Clare Polkinghorne had a glorious chance to pull one back but her effort from point-blank range was saved by Musovic.
The whole of Australia held its breath when Kerr went down clutching her calf after a strong challenge.
She struggled to get to her feet, but much to the delight of the sellout crowd, she played out the match.
Sweden successfully negotiated the final stages to win bronze for the fourth time in their history.