Australia proved too strong for rivals New Zealand, and DPR Korea were impressive over China, in the opening day's action of the Australia Cup tonight at Brisbane's QEII Stadium.
The new-look Matildas combination was in control of play throughout the match to record a 2-0 victory over the inexperienced New Zealand side.
The Matildas set the tone from the opening whistle, debutante Lisa De Vanna turning on the speed against the Kiwi defence, as she would continually through the match, but unsuccessful with the shot. Sarah Walsh had her attempt cleared off the line by defender Maia Jackman in the 12th minute. Dianne Alagich watched her header fly inches past the target on the quarter-hour mark, and fellow defender Karla Reuter made a foraging raid on goal.
Australia were finally rewarded with a pair of goals within a four minute spell. April Mann, the only member of the attacking prong with previous international experience, led the way with a goal in the 26th minute, chipping the goalkeeper from the edge of the 18-yard box. Walsh then scored on debut with a solo run and finish from similar distance, her drive slipping through the hands of rookie goalkeeper Jenny Bindon. De Vanna saw two opportunities come to nought in the last five minutes leading into the break.
The Matildas retained the upper hand in the second half with possession and chances, but had lost the polish displayed in the first 45 minutes. New Zealand were more effective in their play, making life harder for the home side, and holding the Australians scoreless for the remainder.
Australia put a third goal in the back of the net with around eight minutes to go, but the effort was disallowed, ruling De Vanna offside.
Of the Australian starting eleven, Walsh and De Vanna celebrated their international debut, whilst Kate McShea and Amy Taylor made their first appearance since April 2002. Coming off the bench for their debut appearance were Leah Blayney, Kate Gill, Lana Harch, plus Selin Kuralay who was a late call-up to the team following a knee injury to Bryony Duus. New Zealand started the match with five debutantes, whilst five more recorded their first cap off the bench.
Matildas National Coach Adrian Santrac was happy to kick off the tournament with a win. "It was a pleasing result in the end. Overall for where we are at the moment, there were moments of very very good football, but there were others where we need to refine. As we're building an understanding with each other, it was good to see a contribution of all the players - all eighteen got on the park, and each one contributed."
Paul Smalley, New Zealand Director of Football, was equally as pleased with his side's performance, in their view to longer term success. "I was very happy with both halves. We set ourselves some objectives for this match, and I'm extremely pleased with the performance."
In the later match tonight, DPR Korea signalled their intentions with a classy showing over a youthful China, the Koreans producing a deserved 3-0 victory.
North Korea created plenty of chances on goal throughout the Asian clash but, in the first half especially, were unable to convert that advantage onto the scoreboard. Their sharpness in passing combinations and movement off the ball made for an entertaining contest, whilst China also showed patches of promising play.
After numerous near-misses, it was in the dying minutes of the first half that DPR Korea claimed the lead, the Chinese defence relenting to the pressure and scoring an own goal.
The Koreans all but killed off any chance of a Chinese fightback with two fantastic goals early in the second half, striker Jin Pyol Hui successful in the 53rd minute, with fellow forward Yun Yong Hui taking the score to 3-0 three minutes later.