Kerr on the mark but Matildas off pace

Matildas captain Sam Kerr is refusing to be downbeat about Australia's chances escaping their World Cup group despite their opening loss to Italy.

samantha kerr of the glory celebrates after scoring a goal during the w league match at nib stadium in perth australia
SAMANTHA KERR of the Glory celebrates after scoring a goal during the W-League match at nib Stadium in Perth, Australia. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images

She didn't celebrate at the end of the match but Australia captain Sam Kerr saluted one of her football idols after breaking her Women's World Cup duck.

Kerr scored the Matildas' goal in their 2-1 loss to Italy on Sunday, netting the game's opener on the 22nd minute.

After tucking away a rebound from her own saved penalty, Kerr ran to the corner and punched the flag like another Australian goalscorer of years gone by.

"The legend, Timmy Cahill lives on," she said.

"My first ever (World Cup) goal and he's our greatest-ever goalscorer.

"Just a bit of fun and a shoutout to Timmy ... Timmy's a legend. He's one of my idols.

"I thought he probably should have got on at the last World Cup and scored so that one was for him."

Barbara Bonansea had the last laugh in Valenciennes, scoring in the 56th and 95th minutes to win the match for Italy.

She then unveiled her own celebration - a thumb-suck, echoing the last time Italy beat Australia at a World Cup in the 2006 men's tournament.

Back then Francesco Totti netted a penalty at the exact same point - the fifth minute of injury time - to send the Socceroos out of the round of 16.

At least in France, the Matildas are still alive.

"We've still got two more games to get out of the group," Kerr said.

"We just lost in the last moment but I think we dominated the game.

"We feel really confident still.

"There's a lot of positives. We'll stick together and go on to Brazil."

Kerr's confidence rests on Australia's dominance in their first match.

At times, the Matildas were confident and vibrant in their forward play, ably supported by full-backs Ellie Carpenter and Steph Catley.

Australia starved Italy of possession and took 16 shots to their opponents' three.

Kerr's belief is also supported by history.

In Australia's six previous outings at the World Cup, the Matildas have just one opening-match win - yet they've reached the quarter-finals three times.

In 2015, they were soundly beaten by eventual winners USA 3-1, before bouncing back to defeat Nigeria 2-0 in their next match.

Coach Ante Milicic referred to their tricky path out of the group as "the Australian way".

"(Ante) thinks it's going to be the hard way? Yeah, it is," Kerr said.

"But we did this last World Cup and got through and we are still so confident that we'll get through."


AAP