Sam Kerr celebrates the Matildas’ second goal late on.
Sam Kerr celebrates the Matildas’ second goal late on.

Kerr magic not enough as Matildas fall short

THE Matildas claimed a deserved 2-0 win over China but the scoreline fell short of delivering an Algarve Cup final appearance.

Injury-hit Australia endured some unlucky moments and at times struggled to break down a compact China in their third and final group match.

In the end, Chloe Logarzo and Sam Kerr found the net to hand Alen Stajcic's side a likely third-place play-off against host nation Portugal on Thursday.

Despite scoring eight goals against China over November's two friendlies, the world No.4 Matildas couldn't deliver the four required to make the final of the invitational tournament, key preparation for next month's World Cup qualifiers.

Their 14th-ranked counterparts had the better of the first-half chances, and Australia could thank some resolute defending for their half-time clean sheet.

Wang Shuang sent a golden chance begging, swiping wide on the break, and Wang Shanshan had a crack that MacKenzie Arnold gathered comfortably.

The Matildas had a tough time containing China’s attack.
The Matildas had a tough time containing China’s attack.

China allowed Kerr little of the ball and the Matildas, toiling in a bid to dictate the midfield rhythm, couldn't find a clear passage.

One opened up in the 30th minute when goalkeeper Wang Fei fumbled Elise Kellond- Knight's free kick.

Kerr toe-poked home but was ruled to have fouled Wang.

A lifeline finally materialised after the break.

Well-performing Alanna Kennedy put in a precise ball and Logarzo finished with finesse, looping a header over Wang Fei.

It opened the game up with Lisa De Vanna skying a sitter and Wang Shanshan heading marginally wide.

Logarzo struck it clean from 25 metres out but her effort bounced cruelly off the post.

China came close to a late equaliser off a Kennedy yellow card; Arnold saved and then spilled Wang Shuang's subsequent free kick but Kerr was on hand for the vital clearance.

Kerr finally converted a chance at the death, clipping a lob past the onrushing 'keeper that sailed into the far corner.

Sweden and the Netherlands qualified for the final.