Sam Kerr’s insane World Cup rampage
In Sam Kerr we trust.
The Matildas' superstar striker scored all four goals in our crunch clash against Jamaica on Wednesday morning to secure a top two finish in Group C.
Kerr dominated in the air in the first half to establish a 2-0 lead, but the lowest-ranked side at the tournament stunned the Matildas early in the second half to score their first goal at a World Cup and put the result back in doubt at 2-1.
With Jamaica launching attack after attack Aussie fans were on the edge of their seats in the stands, but Kerr stepped up again in the 69th and 83rd minutes to make it 4-1 and become just the third woman to score four goals in a World Cup match.
"We weren't too pleased with our first half, but a win's a win and that's what we needed to build our confidence going into the next round," Kerr said. "It's an amazing feeling ... but it was a team effort."
The result saw Australia finish the group stage on six points - as did Group C rivals Italy and Brazil.
Italy finished top of the group on goal difference despite a 1-0 loss to Brazil in Valenciennes. Australia and Brazil both finished with goal differences of +6 but because the Aussies scored more goals in their three group games, they finished second and will now play Norway in the round of 16.
Kerr scored first for the Matildas as they took advantage of the weight of possession with a goal after 11 minutes in Grenoble.
The Aussies had dominated the opening exchanges against Jamaica and Kerr made the Reggae Girlz pay when she showed her prowess in the air.
Settled in the box, the Matildas captain out-muscled her defender to win front position and got her head to a pinpoint Emily Gielnik cross. Kerr still had plenty to do as she looped it past the goalkeeper, who watched helplessly as her despairing dive did nothing to prevent the ball hitting the back of the net.
The Kerr show continued when some woeful defending left her completely unmarked in the middle of the area and she was never going to be stopped when gifted an opportunity like that. Her head once again met the perfect cross a few minutes before halftime and Australia went into the break with a 2-0 lead.
Jamaica stunned the Aussies at the start of the second half by scoring its first ever goal at a World Cup.
Havana Solaun - who was brought on after the break - latched onto a beautiful through ball, tipped it past goalkeeper Lydia Williams as she ran out to try and smother Solaun, then slotted the ball between two Matildas and over the line to spark wild scenes of celebration among the girls in gold.
Khadija Shaw came agonisingly close to levelling things up just after the hour mark when she burst in behind Australia's defence on the right, but she fired her shot across the face of goal and the Matildas breathed a sigh of relief.
The Jamaican striker had another crack a minute later, charging into the area but blasting her shot wide and high as she opted for power over placement.
The Jamaicans were storming home and putting some serious pressure on the Aussies but Kerr ensured her team had some breathing space when the ball fell to her after a scramble and some sloppy clearance work in the box. She was just a couple of metres from goal and slotted home for her third to complete Australia's first ever hat-trick in a World Cup match.
Kerr appealed for a penalty when she fell in the area, suggesting she may have been clipped by the goalkeeper with 12 minutes remaining. But the referee waved the captain away and VAR was not called for.
Kerr continued her history-making run when she netted her fourth goal of the game to make it 4-1 as she became the tournament's joint top goal-scorer. A horrific mistake from Jamaican goalkeeper Nicole McClure gifted the Aussies their biggest advantage of the day as she completely missed an attempted pass on her goal-line.
Kerr was on hand to tap the ball over the line after the air-swing.