- Sam Kerr scored as Australia beat Iran on Thursday
- The Matildas returned home for the first time since the World Cup
- Kerr came off the bench to score for her country
Super substitute Sam Kerr came off the bench to score the winning goal in front of her hometown fans in the Matildas’ rusty 2-0 Olympic qualifier win over Iran in Perth.
In front of 18,798 fans at HBF Park on Thursday night, Ellie Carpenter opened the scoring in the 19th minute before Kerr sealed the win in the 78th minute.
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson warned on the eve of the game that he would not throw his jetlagged stars into the deep end and one look at the bench proved those words to be true.
Kerr, Mackenzie Arnold, Katrina Gorry, Kyra Cooney-Cross, Caitlin Foord, Stephanie Catley, Hayley Raso, Alanna Kennedy and Mary Fowler all started on the pine.
With the score still only 1-0 after 65 minutes and Australia expected to win easily, Gustavsson brought on Kerr, Catley and Fowler in a three-man substitution.
Sam Kerr got on the scoresheet as the Matildas returned to winning ways on Thursday
The captain came off the bench and scored the decisive goal in the 2-0 win against Iran
Kerr kept her composure and created an easy chance, much to the delight of her home crowd in Perth
Tony Gustavsson changed his jet-lagged side for the game against Iran (pictured, with Sam Kerr as a full-time player)
The substitution worked beautifully and the trio combined forces to score Australia’s second goal.
Catley combined with Fowler on a one-two before firing a low pass across goal, allowing Kerr to make an easy pass.
Foord, Raso, Arnold and Gorry were among the unused substitutes.
The Matildas enjoyed 82 percent possession in the first half and a fine run down the right by Cortnee Vine helped set up the opening goal.
Vine’s cross found Charlotte Grant, who passed it on to Carpenter, who fired the ball into the goal, scoring only her fourth goal in 70 appearances for Australia.
Carpenter had almost a second in the 31st minute when she was played in and had only the goalkeeper to beat, but her shot from an angle went wide of the goal.
The Iranian players did their best to waste time at every opportunity.
Theatrics on the floor were a common theme in the first half, much to the frustration of Matildas.
Adding to Australia’s disappointment was their inability to capitalize on their chances.
Kerr received a rousing reception when she came on as a substitute in the 65th minute.
A Matildas fan was delighted after Kerr gave away her shirt at the final whistle
As always, fans were looking forward to a selfie with the Matildas superstar (pictured).
These Matildas supporters were in seventh heaven after Kerr signed a banner (pictured)
Chelsea’s star striker fired a shot over the bar in the 72nd minute, but she made no mistake with her throw-in six minutes later.
Kerr had a golden chance to score again in the 93rd minute, but couldn’t keep her shot low enough.
In the previous game, the Philippines recovered from a deficit to claim a 4-1 victory over Taiwan that shot them to the top of the group.
Yi-yun Hsu opened the scoring for Taiwan in the 47th minute as the underdogs dreamed of an upset.
But a brace from Sarina Bolden and goals from Katrina Guillou and Chandler McDaniel meant it was an easy win for the Philippines in the end.
The Matildas face the Philippines at a sold-out Optus Stadium on Sunday before returning to HBF Park to face Taiwan next Wednesday.
Australia must finish top of their group to secure a place in the final round of Olympic qualifying in February.