Humid conditions in Tokyo for the Matildas’ opening match didn’t stop the Australians as they got off to a good start in the Olympics, downing New Zealand 2-1.
The Aussies maintained their impressive 27-year unbeaten run against the Kiwis in a performance that revoked a long string of 5 games without a victory.
All the early pressure came from the Matildas, with Kyah Simon and Emily van Egmond providing some nice touches in the opening 15 minutes.
The Matildas piling on the pressure as they won a series of corners before an Ellie Carpenter cross nearly saw New Zealand with an own goal but some sharp work from Erin Nayler, the Football Ferns goalkeeper, kept it out.
Then in the 20th minute a beautiful deft touch from Sam Kerr onto Tameka Yallop who found the back of the net to take the Matildas 1-0 up.
In the 33rd minute a superb Steph Catley corner saw a superb, glancing header from Kerr end her goal-scoring drought over recent matches.
The lead could have been three in the shadows of half-time, but Kerr’s header looped over the bar.
Kyah Simon went within a whisker of scoring a goal two minutes in to the second half after some sloppy defensive play from New Zealand, but saw her shot stopped by an on-rushing Nayler.
It was Kerr herself just missing four minutes later with an ambitious flick, with a Hayley Raso then going close soon after on the end of another Carpenter cross.
Another diving save by Nayler at the feet of Kerr kept the difference at the deficit at two goals.
Catlin Foord was denied a 3rd Australian goal from a header moments later, and in the 65th minute Australian goalkeeper Lydia Williams lost her footing when trying to collect a long ball to leave the goal mouth open, but Carpenter was there to clear.
73rd minute and Simon again forced another great save from the New Zealand goalkeeper.
New Zealand came alive in the final, a free kick nearly catching Williams unaware, sailing wide of the mark.
A minute into injury time, a snappy piece of play from a New Zealand cross saw Gabi Rennie find the back of the net setting up a nervous final few minutes, but the Matildas held on for a deserved win.