x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Australian women still in with a chance at World Cup

A crucial 3-2 group D win over Equatorial Guinea proves timely despite a controversial handball in their favour overlooked.

BOCHUM, GERMANY // Australia kept their World Cup dream alive with goals from Leena Khamis, Emily van Egmond and Lisa de Vanna giving them a crucial 3-2 Group D win over Equatorial Guinea yesterday.

A double from Anonman, the Guinea captain, could not lift the African debutantes, who crash out of the tournament with one match to play after losing 1-0 to Norway in their opener.

The Matildas needed a win to keep in the running for their second consecutive quarter-final showing after losing 1-0 to Brazil in their first game.

"I'm pleased with the win - it means we're still in the competition," Tom Sermanni, the Australia coach, said.

"Hopefully we're in a position to decide our own destiny."

Described as "unpredictable" by Sermanni, the Australians found it difficult to control the pace of the Africans early on, despite Khamis, the Sydney FC forward, opening the scoring after eight minutes.

But there was some controversy in the 16th minute when Khamis hit the post and Bruna, a Guinea defender, caught the ball, believing a free kick had been awarded, dropped it and played on.

The incident was not seen by Gyoengyi Gaal, the referee, who later apologised through Fifa for missing the obvious handball.

Anonman got the equaliser after 21 minutes with a spectacular solo run to the delight of the 15,640 crowd.

The 22 year old dispossessed tumbling striker Servet Uzunlar to race towards goal, beating dithering Australian defender Elise Kellond-Knight and then finishing past the advancing goalkeeper Lydia Williams.

The 11th-ranked Australians came out battling after the break, with 17-year-old Van Egmond getting her first international goal three minutes later before substitute De Vanna slotted home a third after 51 minutes.

The Africans kept pushing and Anonman, who plays for German club Jena, took advantage of another Uzunlar error to fire past Williams after 83 minutes to set up a tense finish to the match.

"As a team we could have done a bit better," De Vanna said. "The refereeing wasn't the greatest but that's how the game is. We got the three points and that's all that matters."

Sermanni said he had not seen the handball.

"The referee can't be 100 per cent right all the time. I didn't see it, the referee missed it, you just have to move on," he said.

Marcello Frigerio, the Equatorial Guinea coach, said he was proud of the effort shown by his side, who are ranked 61st in the world.

"Our country has a very low ranking. We lost 1-0 to Norway and then had a very close defeat today. This is something we can be proud of," he said.

"We tried to play a good match and leave a good impression."

* Agence France-Presse