Matildas share points with US, likely to progress to next Olympics stage

FOCUSED: Australia's Mary Fowler (right) chases after US opponent Kelley O'Hara during their draw at Kashima Stadium on Tuesday night. Picture: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

FOCUSED: Australia's Mary Fowler (right) chases after US opponent Kelley O'Hara during their draw at Kashima Stadium on Tuesday night. Picture: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

The Matildas have all-but sealed their spot in the Olympics quarter-finals after playing out a 0-0 stalemate with the US on Tuesday night.

It was a mostly dour affair at Kashima Stadium, with the result meaning Tony Gustavsson's side finished third in group G with a win, draw and loss. Under the competition's rules, the top two teams in all three groups automatically progress to the next phase, where they are joined by the two best third-placed teams.

The Australians are currently in the strongest position to advance, alongside Japan, but will keep an eye on the remaining group games on Tuesday night.

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There was drama minutes before the Matildas game, with Shellharbour's Caitlin Foord ruled out after being injured during the warm-up. She was replaced by teenager and former llawarra Stingrays forward Mary Fowler.

Australia's first opportunity came within 15 minutes when Steph Catley put a dangerous ball into the box, but Alanna Kennedy couldn't connect properly. Fowler came desperately close to scoring minutes later, but her header hit the crossbar.

The Matildas continued to be patient and looked to control possession. Captain Samantha Kerr took a long-range shot in the 28th minute, but the ball deflected out.

At the other end, Alex Morgan appeared to have headed home the first US goal from a nice cross, but she was ruled off side. It was reviewed by the VAR, which confirmed the decision.

Both teams continued to look dangerous in their front third, with their defences standing up to the challenge. In the dying stages, Morgan put a great through-ball in for Christen Press, whose attempt was stopped by Aussie goalkeeper Teagan Micah.

The score remained 0-0 at half time.

In the first 10 minutes after the break, Fowler and Kyah Smith both looked ominous for the US defence, but couldn't convert their opportunities. The US were also dangerous in attack, but Australia's backline - led by experienced pair Kennedy and Claire Polkinghorne - continued to hold on.

Midway through the half, the US lifted their intensity inside the front third, with Aussie fans forced to hold their breath on a couple of occasions.

The Matildas were happy to hold possession heading into the final 15 minutes. Their opponents also seemed happy to share the ball around.

Both teams had limited chances late in the half, but neither side could find the back of the net.

This story Matildas share points with US, likely to progress to next stage first appeared on Illawarra Mercury.