Heyman
Veteran striker Michelle Heyman completed her hat-trick in just 16 minutes for the Matildas. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS
  • soccer

Matildas crush Uzbekistan to cruise into Olympics

Anna Harrington February 29, 2024

The ruthless Matildas have thrashed Uzbekistan 10-0 to qualify for the Paris Olympic Games in style, with Michelle Heyman scoring four goals to put her hand up for a ticket to Paris.

Australia led the tie 3-0 after Saturday’s first leg in Tashkent but blew Uzbekistan out of the water at Marvel Stadium to win 13-0 on aggregate, with Caitlin Foord, Kaitlyn Torpey, Mary Fowler, Hayley Raso and Amy Sayer also scoring.

Temperatures hit 36C in Melbourne earlier on Wednesday, but it didn’t deter a crowd of 54,120, which included Olympic greats Cathy Freeman and Anna Meares.

Matildas
 The Matildas were rampant against Uzbekistan scoring five times in the opening 23 minutes. Image by James Ross/AAP PHOTOS 

The Matildas took the lead inside 34 seconds after Torpey forced an own goal from Dilrabo Asadova and never looked back, with 50th-gamer Fowler at her spellbinding best in an eight-goal, first-half rout.

“You could sense the focus in the group when the game started today,” coach Tony Gustavsson said.

“They were on a mission. 

“Very good training session yesterday and then I know for a fact that these players feed off of the energy in the stands as well and that was massive tonight. 

“You can see we’ve come out flying from from minute one.”

Heyman, 35, who also scored in Tashkent, replaced Emily van Egmond for her first international start since March 2018.

The striker’s movement and guile proved far too hot for Uzbekistan to handle as she snared a hat-trick inside the first 16 minutes.

“The job description for me as a forward is to just get in the box and score goals,” Heyman said. 

“And that’s all I wanted to do was get out there and try and be in the best position every single time that ball got crossed in, to make sure I was there to finish.

“When I looked at Tony after the third one he was smiling and I even said, ‘I’ve got five in me – like, hold on!””

Second-gamer Torpey, 23, had a hand in three goals and scored her first international goal in her own compelling audition for the 18-player Olympics squad.

Three minutes later, Fowler launched a diagonal ball from the left and Torpey brilliantly stuck out her right leg to cut the ball across goal for Heyman to tuck away.

For the third, in the eighth minute, Steph Catley lofted a ball in from the left that dipped for Heyman to nod home.

Heyman sealed her hat-trick when Fowler threaded a great ball behind the Uzbek defence for the striker to put away.

Torpey scored the fifth in the 22nd minute when Uzbekistan failed to clear a corner and she rifled a close-range strike into the roof of the net.

Rarely troubled, Mackenzie Arnold made a strong save to deny Uzbekistan captain Lyudmila Karachik in the 28th minute.

Six minutes later, Katrina Gorry picked out Fowler with a wonderful inside pass and the playmaker rifled home.

In the 38th minute, Uzbekistan failed to deal with a Kyra Cooney-Cross free kick and Foord pounced for Australia’s seventh.

On the stroke of halftime, Uzbekistan cleared a corner off the line but Torpey squared it for Heyman to stoop and head home her fourth.

Heyman, Foord, Gorry and Ellie Carpenter came off at halftime, for Sayer, Tameka Yallop, van Egmond and Raso, while Charli Grant replaced Catley in the 65th minute.

Raso rifled home in the 68th while Sayer’s first international goal in the fourth minute of injury time put an exclamation mark on the victory.