Emily Gielnik fires Matildas past Chile for second time in a week

Emily Gielnik’s first-half goal proved the difference as Australia secured their second win over Chile in four days, albeit with another unconvincing display against the No 37-ranked South Americans in Adelaide.

Sam Kerr, whose immediate club future is expected to be announced imminently, laid on the only goal of the game on 23 minutes for Gielnik, who finished neatly from an acute angle.

But Kerr passed up a good chance to get her own name on the scoresheet before the break when the Matildas captain saw her spot kick, which she had won herself, saved by Chilean goalkeeper Natalia Campos. The Europe-bound Kerr nearly atoned for that miss when she struck the bar soon after the restart but try as they might, the Matildas could not add to Gielnik’s strike.

On her penalty miss, Kerr said: “You’ve got to pick yourself up and you can’t dwell on things. Obviously the first camp back there are a few cobwebs. But we’re happy with the two wins and a clean sheet tonight.”

The 10,342-strong attendance at Hindmarsh Stadium is the largest to watch a women’s football international in Adelaide. The previous Adelaide benchmark was 5,168 for a 2006 fixture against China – the last time the Matildas played in the South Australian capital.

Most came to witness the near-peerless Kerr, who was dynamic despite her misses as Australia swept the two-game series against the Chileans.

Coach Ante Milicic made four changes to his starting line-up from last Saturday’s 2-1 win in Sydney before a crowd of 20,029 – an Australian record for a women’s international.

The tinkering had scant impact on the fluency of the Matildas, who produced a first half domination punctuated by Gielnik’s strike. Played into space by a shrewd Kerr pass, Gielnik’s first-time shot somehow eluded Campos at the near post.

Ellie Carpenter and Tameka Yallop failed to convert further chances until Kerr took centre stage on the cusp of half-time. After a trademark dash forward, Kerr had a shot saved and the ball rebounded to near the edge of the area where Campos, scrapping for possession, brought the Australian down to give away a penalty.

But Kerr’s shot from the spot, low to the left, was well-covered by the keeper, leaving the hosts 1-0 up at the break despite basking in two-thirds of possession.

Australia continued their domination in a second half notable for another Kerr close-call – in the 48th minute her curling right-footer smacked into the cross-bar. But despite their general dominance, the world No 8 Australians almost paid a hefty price for their profligacy in front of goal.

From a dead-ball in the 58th minute, Chile’s Daniela Zamora had only keeper Lydia Williams to beat but her strike was blocked by the Matildas custodian. And 77 minutes in, Williams had another nervy moment when Chilean Carla Guerrero’s speculative 25m shot deflected from Kerr and looped toward goal, hitting the top of the cross-bar.