USA v Australia report by ASA

United States of America 3 - Australia 1

The Qantas Matildas went down 3-1 to favourites USA today (Aust time) in Blaine, Minnesota, the match concluding the Australians' final Olympic preparations. Australia led at half-time after Danielle Small scored inside the first five minutes, but the home side ran away with the match in the second half.

USA, ranked number two in the world, and twice FIFA Women's World Cup champions and former Olympic gold medallists, will next face Australia at the Olympics themselves, in the last Group G match on 17 August in Thessaloniki.

The Australians will take encouragement from the fact they held the lead over the mighty Americans for almost the first hour of play before the sellout crowd of 10,276 at the National Sports Center in very hot and humid conditions.

With this match, which was broadcast live across America on ESPN2, USA retain their perfect record over the Qantas Matildas, with sixteen wins from as many matches, stretching back to their very first clash in 1987.

After early action at both ends in today's match, the Qantas Matildas silenced the home fans with a sweetly executed goal in the 5th minute. Heather Garriock's diagonal ball over the US defence was collected by Small before clinically lobbing the ball over the keeper from the left edge of the 6-yard box.

Australia retained a good share of the possession and their defence remained firm to repel a small handful of US attempts for the equaliser, to go in at the break delighted with the 1-0 scoreline.

With several half-time substitutions, USA then kept the Qantas Matildas defence busy throughout the second half, and levelled at 1-1 eleven minutes after the restart when a Mia Hamm corner kick was bustled in by Shannon Boxx amongst a goalmouth scramble.

USA then took the 2-1 lead, superstar attacker Hamm this time herself the scorer in the 76th minute to record her 150th international goal. A Heather O'Reilly ball found Hamm on the left who cut inside and finished in the top right of goal.

The home side sealed the victory with a third goal nine minutes from the final whistle, an O'Reilly cross from the left converted by striker Abby Wambach from close range.

Australian defender Dianne Alagich celebrated her 50th A-international cap today.

National Coach Adrian Santrac was pleased with the game and the lessons to come from it, with the two teams to meet again at the Olympics.

"In some ways, it was very much a game of two halves," said Santrac. "Our focus was to play and deliver our game and to control the tempo of the game. We did this very effectively in the first half. It was a controlled first half performance ' we looked good going in at half time 1-0 up."

"In the second half, the US threw different challenges at us, which we found difficult to deal with, but we will learn from them. It was a very good game for us ' we learned a lot about the USA and a lot about ourselves. We're in a good position at this point of our preparation."

Australia's month-long tour has produced some great results including a 2-0 win and a 1-1 draw against fifth-ranked China, and a 2-1 victory and a 2-0 loss against Olympics-bound Mexico at altitude previous to today's encounter.

The Qantas Matildas arrive back in Australia this Saturday 24 July, each player returning to her home State. A week later on Sunday 1 August, the Team assembles once again, flying out to Greece from Sydney airport.

written by Australian Soccer Association