The Group A fixtures of the second round of the 2024 Olympic women’s football Asian qualifiers kicked off in Perth, Western Australia, on Thursday, with Australia securing a 2-0 win over Iran and the Philippines stunning Chinese Taipei 4-1.
Facing off against a lower-ranked but tenacious Iran, Australia broke the deadlock in the 19th minute when Cortnee Vine got down to the by-line for a cross, and Charlotte Grant cut the ball back to Ellie Carpenter who eventually fired a powerful goal.
During the second half, Australia’s head coach Tony Gustavsson made significant substitutions in the 65th minute, sending captain Sam Kerr, Mary Fowler, and defender Steph Catley onto the pitch.
A clever pass delivered by Fowler and Catley set up the stage for Kerr’s easy tap-in in the 79th minute to seal the Matildas’ maiden victory in the qualifying campaign for Paris 2024.
Despite Australia’s lion’s share in possession, the 63rd-ranked Iran proved their resilience in defence before a sold-out crowd, especially as their goalkeeper Zahra Khajavi conceded merely two goals under their opponents’ shelling of more than 20 shots, including six on target.
Earlier in the day, the Philippines recorded a comfortable victory over Chinese Taipei on the same turf.
Following a goalless first half, a 47th-minute goal by Hsu Yi-Yun moved Chinese Taipei ahead.
The Philippines, however, fought back by pulling off four consecutive goals.
Sarina Bolden converted a 54th-minute penalty to level the score before Katrina Guillou put them ahead in the 60th minute. Bolden registered another goal under her name in the 83rd minute and Chandler McDaniel made it 4-1 in the 90th minute.
The second match day will unfold on Sunday with Australia to brace for a clash against the Philippines, while Iran play Chinese Taipei.