Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], January 24 (ANI): Australia maintained the top spot in Group B with a 4-0 win over the Philippines in the ongoing AFC Women's Asian Cup India 2022 at Mumbai Football Arena on Monday.
The Matildas took 51 minutes to break the deadlock against the side 53 places below them in the world rankings, but ultimately cruised to victory thanks to goals from Sam Kerr, Emily van Egmond and Mary Fowler as well as an own goal from Dominqiue Randle.
With a maximum six points after two matches, Australia will look to mathematically confirm their place in the last eight on Thursday, while the Philippines are also well placed to advance despite their defeat, thanks to their earlier win against Thailand.
Three days removed from a record-breaking 18-0 win over Indonesia the Matildas returned to Mumbai Football Arena as overwhelming favourites, but they were given a much sterner test by an organised and physically adept Philippines outfit.
In fact, the game's first big chance fell the way of Alen Stajcic's side, with Chandler McDaniel - the Philippines' match-winner against Thailand on Friday - pulling a low effort wide after being put through on goal by the returning Sarina Bolden.
Australia, having survived that early the scare, began to monopolise possession and territory, but found it far from easy to break down their determined opposition. Last ditch defensive efforts from Randle and Hali Long kept clear cut chances to a minimum, and the Australians failed to capitalise when they did carve out opportunities, with Kerr missing a free header following Steph Catley's 30th-minute corner kick.
Defender Clare Polkinghorne went close for Australia when her delicate effort on goal tickled the outside of the cross bar six minutes later, but the first half came to an end with none of Australia's 10 shots having forced debutant goalkeeper Kiara Fontanilla into a meaningful save.
Frustrated throughout in the first half, the Matildas came out firing after the interval, with Ellie Carpenter and Mary Fowler both missing narrowly before Kerr made up for her earlier miss, breaking the deadlock by heading another pinpoint Catley corner kick delivery in the 51st minute.
One goal quickly became two, with the otherwise impressive Randle unfortunate to lob the ball into her own net while attempting to keep Kerr at bay, extending the Australian lead just two minutes later.
Tony Gustavsson's side were now in total control, and they made the points safe in the 67th minute, with van Egmond heading home at the second attempt after Long blocked her initial effort, bringing up the Australian midfielder's fourth goal of the tournament in only her second appearance and consolidating her side's place at the top of Group B.
Australia will be mathematically confirmed as group winners with a point or better against Thailand on Thursday, while the Philippines are likely to join them in the quarter-finals if they can defeat Indonesia in Navi Mumbai. (ANI)