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Hayley Raso’s debut and first win at 2023 Women’s World Cup

Hayley Raso vs Katie McCabe duel - the highlight of the match.

Australia v Ireland: Group B - FIFA Women’s World Cup Australia & New Zealand 2023 Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images

Australia 1 - 0 Ireland

FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023 has started today, July 20th, and the hosts have opened the first day of the tournament. First match of the World Cup was between New Zealand and Norway where the hosts came victorious. Australia is the other host country and played their debut game against Ireland. Real Madrid’s new signing Hayley Raso debuted in this game when she was on the starting line-up sheet for Australia.

Australia came as favorites to win this match and showed it from the beginning. In the first 30 minutes, the ball was mostly in Matildas’ possession, their passes were far more accurate and aside from those stats on paper, they spent more time in attack than defense. Defending Ireland’s chances wasn’t much of a problem for the Australian backline. As the time went on in the first half, Ireland became more nervous. Madrid’s Raso was operating on the right wing, which is her usual position, and had a dangerous header attempt and a few minutes later Ireland’s Katie McCabe clashed with her in a late challenge by the left-back. A similar foul was made a few minutes before the end of the first 45 minutes and Raso stayed on the ground for a couple of minutes. Luckily, nothing serious came from that foul.

The first half had 6 minutes added to the regular time and Australia almost took advantage of that stoppage time at 45+5’ when Foord tried to make her way through the Irish defense but was stopped masterfully by Payne in her penalty area. Despite Foord’s efforts, the match remained goalless by the end of the first half. Ireland’s defensive approach with the 5-4-1 off-the-ball formation was what saved them in these 45 minutes. Australia had 5 shots in total where only 1 ended on target, while Ireland had 1 shot off target.

Four minutes into the second half, Courtnee Vine dribbled through half or Ireland’s defense, trying to combine with Fowler in the box, the two were stopped in the box and the ball was cleared.

In 50’, Australia’s luck was turning around when Marissa Sheva brought Hayley Raso down in the penalty area after Kyra Cooney-Cross’s long ball sent to Rao. It was a clear foul and a penalty given straight-away. Steph Catley took the ball to the spot and made no mistakes, giving Australia the lead. Not even a minute after the scored penalty, Fowler was breaking through the right side which could’ve ended badly for the Irish side if they hadn’t stopped her on the entrance of the penalty area. Matildas were looking much more confident now.

In 68’ there was a corner kick for Australia. Foord received it near the near post trying to put the header into the opposing corner of the net, but the ball went wide. Raso was waiting at the far post but didn’t manage to react quickly enough to put it in. A couple of minutes later, McCabe took a corner for Ireland which was their most dangerous action. The corner almost went straight in where Mackenzie Arnold had to intervene boxing it out. Interestingly enough, that was the first corner Ireland would take in the match. In the next 4 minutes they took 2 more and it was looking like the Irish were slowly waking up, 76 minutes into the game.

There was a short intermission around the 80th minute to attend Australia’s goalkeeper Arnold after a dangerous chance Ireland had at the very goal line. Ireland were still without a direct shot on target, though. At 85’, the duel between Raso and McCabe continued where the Irish left-back brought down Raso giving Australia a freekick. Five minutes later, there was a dangerous foul by Hunt on Ireland’s Lucy Quinn. Connolly took that one and the shot was brushed off Mackenzie Arnold’s gloves giving them another corner - their sixth. Connolly was on that set piece as well and sent another brilliant direct ball to Matildas’ goal. Arnold was wide awake and pushed the ball away while it was flying just under the crossbar. The 6 minutes of stoppage time were all spent in the Australian penalty area. The Irish were trying their all to level the result. At the very end of the 6 added minutes, Larkin went on the run on the right side, entering Australia’s box and passing it to McCabe. Her shot was nearly interrupted, and it wasn’t tough of a save for Arnold. Another chance for Ireland came from McCabe crossing to Quinn’s head a few moments later, but the attempt went just wide. Despite all Ireland’s efforts to tie the game, Hayley Raso’s Australia came victorious in the end.

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