Disaster breaks Aussie hearts
THE Matildas went on a giant-killing run at the 2017 Tournament of Nations, but they fell agonisingly short on Monday of making it two wins from two at this year's edition.
Fresh from a comprehensive 3-1 win over Brazil in their opening game on Friday, the Aussies took a 1-0 lead in the first half against the USA to silence the home crowd in Connecticut.
But an American equaliser in the 91st minute broke Australian hearts and forced the Matildas to settle for a 1-1 draw.
The women in gold defeated Brazil and America at last year's Tournament of Nations and were hoping for a case of deja vu in 2018. That dream was helped by Chloe Logarzo when she opened the scoring in the 22nd minute after a clinical counter-attack.
Lisa De Vanna started the move inside her own half and burst into American territory at pace, skipping past defenders. She slipped a neat pass in behind the scrambling backline and into the path of Logarzo, who had made a smart run into space.
The Aussie then calmly slotted home with a first-time shot to make it 1-0 for the visitors.
The goal came against the run of play as America dominated the early stages of the match, but wasteful finishing prevented it from finding the back of the net.
Aussie Ellie Carpenter copped the heaviest knock of the first stanza when an attempted clearance down the line clattered into her face and sent her tumbling to her back. Play was stopped as the Matildas medical staff treated her for a bloody nose.
Megan Rapinoe was in everything for the Americans in the opening half, providing much of her side's attacking spark as she linked up several times with captain Alex Morgan.
Rapinoe had a decent crack before the break when she turned past some Aussie defenders and fired off a long range shot, only for it to find goalkeeper Lydia Williams.
Morgan too almost had a chance to square the ledger when she sneaked in behind Australia's line to receive a ball inside the box but the flag went up for offside.
The hosts started the second half with plenty of purpose as Rapinoe continued to pose a constant threat. A desperate clearance saved the Matildas' blushes just minutes after the resumption and another effort from the striker from the corner of the area didn't curl enough to challenge Williams between the posts.
De Vanna was subbed off for Kyah Simon just shy of the hour mark as the Matildas tried to blunt the rampaging Americans. It was a similar story to the first half as the US dominated, keeping the Aussies on the back foot.
Morgan bombed a golden opportunity to claw a goal back when she found herself all alone in the middle of the penalty box, only for her header to lob over the bar.
The Morgan-Rapinoe show continued when the latter found herself with just one defender to beat following a through ball into the box, but a desperate sliding tackle from Alanna Kennedy robbed her of the chance to find an equaliser and instead forced a corner.
Emily van Egmond was involved in some robust challenges in midfield as the Aussies tried desperately to keep the home side at bay. The crowd booed loudly after the away team won a free kick as the tension rose.
Rapinoe floated a cross into the area with a few minutes of regular time remaining but Morgan's glancing header flew over the bar.
But just as it looked like the Matildas would record another famous victory over their fiercest rivals, disaster struck. Rapinoe's 91st minute corner proved too difficult for the Australian defence to handle and Lindsey Horan climbed highest to head the ball home past Williams and make it 1-1.
The Matildas scored their first and only victory from 28 matches against the US on their way to winning the Tournament of Nations on American soil last year. But since then, including Monday's result, the world No.1-ranked Americans have strung together an 18-match unbeaten run, winning 15 and drawing three, while outscoring their opponents 54-16.
The Australians have also put together an impressive record in that time, winning 11 of 16 matches with four draws and just two losses.