What a game. What a highlight of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. This was the real Matildas. Incredible fighting spirit and unbelievable nerve. But in the end, Brazil won a penalty shootout 7-6 after scores were locked 0-0 at halftime and again after the half hour of extra time.
This was one of those nil-all draws you see in football sometimes, which are much more exciting than a game where six or seven goals are scored. You just knew after about half an hour there was going to be nothing in it. And so it proved.
In truth, the better team probably won. Brazil were probably just a teensy-weensy bit more penetrative in attack, and played the possession game well. They had 58 percent of the ball to Australia's 42 percent. They had 10 shots on goal to our three. They had more free kicks and corners.
But Australia's defence was as unmovable as Christ the Redeemer himself. We just weren't going anywhere.
Australia's Chloe Logarzo came closest to scoring in regulation time, but her long range shot thundered against the crossbar. Sooooo close.
Down to penalties. Oh, the tension. This reporter was watching at an outside bar and Churrascario in the Rio de Janeiro evening, and people stopped eating their big juicy steaks about half an hour before the end of regular time and began dining upon their fingernails instead as the game drew to its climax. It was just so exciting.
Andressa Alves of Brazil took the first penalty. It was good. Aussie goalie Lydia Williams kept Austrlaia in this match with some terrific saves late in regulation time, but she had no chance here. One nil.
Australia next. Elise Kellond-Knight. Cool as a cucumber in the right corner. Brazilian keeper Bárbara had no chance. One all.
Brazil next. Andressa. Left corner. JUST. Brazil 2-1.
Australia up. Laura Alleway. A replay of the Brazilian goal. Just snuck into the left corner. 2-2.
Brazil again. Beatriz. A long run-up. High into the left corner. These ladies are using the entire goal. 3-2 to the locals.
Our turn. The ever reliable Emily van Egmond. It was good. 3-3.
Now Brazil. Rafaella shoots truly into the right corner. Goalie went the other way. 4-3. Getting serious now.
Clare Polkinghorne for Australia. So calm. Not a firmly struck shot, but it totally wrong-footed the keeper. Job done. 4-4.
Brazil again. Marta. Australia saves! Incredible. Marta is widely regarded as the best female player of all time. Many call her the Brazilian Pelé. This next penalty to win and advance to the semi-final...
No! It's a Brazilian save! Katrina Gorry's penalty has been saved. The crowd goes wild. The whole of Brazil goes wild. OK then. Brazil's turn.
Brazil again. Debinha. She scores! Australia must now score to stay alive at the Olympics.
We do! Michelle Heyman blasts it into the top right hand corner. Haven't seen one anywhere near that yet. Still level here. A nation has stopped. Perhaps two nations. It's 12:42 am here in Brazil.
Brazil score! Monica hits it low into the left corner. Wow, every inch needed there.
In from Australia! A low, bobbling shot Chloe Logarzo shot which didn't have much pace. But it just got past the goalie.
Best shot of the night from Tamires for Brazil. Aussie goalie no chance. Top right, firmly struck. They lead 7-6.
Oh no! A save From Brazil! We've lost! Alanna Kennedy, THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT!!! Oh but this is hearbtreaking. Our Olympic dream is over. Australia has still never won an Olympic medal in men's or women's football.
But this Matildas team has put up an epic performance here which has the whole of Brazil praising them. Their whole campaign here has been something to remember, After a surprise loss to Canada in their first game, they would have beaten Germany but for a late goal, and thrashed Zimbabwe 6-1 in the sort of display of which only good teams are capable.
As for Brazil, they join Canada, Germany and Sweden (who knocked out the USA in penalties today) in the semi-finals. And the bar in which this reporter sits frantically typing has totally GONE OFF.
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