Matildas must crack defensive code, says Kerr

Captain Sam Kerr admits the Matildas haven't quite cracked the code on breaking down deep-defending teams after China ground out a 1-1 draw in their epic Olympic qualifier.

Australia enjoyed the lion share of possession in Thursday night's clash at Bankwest Stadium, playing 362 more passes.

But Ante Milicic's side struggled to find the killer-ball as well-drilled China sat back, absorbed pressure and took a more direct route when moving forward.

China's resoluteness paid dividends as the Steel Roses broke the deadlock through Tang Jiali's 86th-minute strike.

But Emily van Egmond's stunning reply in added time cancelled out the would-be winner, ensuring Australia face Vietnam instead of South Korea in the final knockout stage for Tokyo 2020.

Apart from a few flashes of brilliance, Kerr wasn't afforded many opportunities to strut her stuff while returning to Milicic's starting line-up after bench cameos against Taiwan and Thailand.

The Chelsea star said China's tactics to sit back and defend in numbers behind the ball made life difficult.

"That's kind of been happening against us a lot lately and we haven't solved it quite yet," Kerr said.

"To be fair, it's probably a compliment to us, teams are respecting what we can do and getting 11 players behind the ball."

Knowing more of same may be in store for Australia in their two-leg playoff with Vietnam, or in the group stage in Tokyo should they qualify, Kerr stressed they were working on addressing the issue.

"It's the hardest thing to do in football is break down a block of 11," she said.

"We're building on it every day, it's something we practice a lot.

"But, look, it doesn't happen overnight and we're building towards it.

"We definitely think we'll face it at the Olympics. But tonight we showed a lot of fight and that's the important thing."

Source AAP