Roared on by the majority of the 75,784 crowd inside Sydney’s Stadium Australia, co-host Australia reached the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals after an impressive 2-0 victory over Denmark in Sydney.
And Matildas fans had even more reason to celebrate as star striker Sam Kerr, who had missed Australia’s group games due to a calf injury, came on as second-half substitute to make her first appearance at the World Cup.
“Just relief, honestly, it’s been a long three weeks, but yeah, it’s amazing,” Kerr told reporters after making her comeback.
However, Kerr also added that she was not happy with the attention that surrounded her injury – which included a helicopter flying over the Matildas’ training ground.
“I felt a little bit disrespected because it’s not about me, it’s about the team and they’re preparing for a World Cup,” she said.
“At the end of the day, we’ve been really transparent. I was not training that day […] so yeah, I felt that was actually a little bit disrespectful.
“Now, I’m just back out on the pitch and I feel like it’s time to crack on now.”
A superb counterattacking move from Australia gave the host the lead, with Mary Fowler springing Caitlin Foord free down the left. The 28-year-old’s low shot was too good for Denmark goalkeeper Lene Christensen.
Try as it might, Denmark was unable to find an equalizer as it struggled to get back into the game and Australia doubled its lead when Hayley Raso guided the ball home into the bottom corner of the net midway through the second half.
Australia now faces either France or Morocco on Saturday in the last eight of the tournament.