Sport Matildas heartbreak after 4-3 loss to US in bronze medal match
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Matildas heartbreak after 4-3 loss to US in bronze medal match

Mackenzie Arnold consoles Alanna Kennedy after Australia’s loss to the US on Thursday night. Photo: Getty
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The Matildas have fallen short of securing a medal at the Tokyo Olympics, losing to the United States 4-3 in the women’s soccer bronze medal match on Thursday night.

Megan Rapinoe’s magnificent Olimpico – a goal scored directly from a corner kick – gave the US the advantage in the eighth minute, with Sam Kerr equalising in the 17th minute.

A defensive lapse saw Rapinoe volley the world champions back in front four minutes later, while Carli Lloyd scored a brace either side of half-time to make it 4-1.

Caitlin Foord scored in the 54th minute and Emily Gielnik rocketed home a cracking long-range strike in the 90th, but the Matildas went home empty-handed.

“Coming so close to a medal is completely heartbreaking,” vice-captain Steph Catley said.

“Especially being so close and really taking it to the top teams in the world and outplaying them at times and getting so close to scoring in certain moments.

“It just feels like we were right there and it’s just been snatched from us. So it’s definitely tough to take.

“… It’s hard to say (the tournament) was a success. A success would have been a medal – that was our goal from the beginning.

“But I would say we’ve gained a lot, learned a lot and come a long, long way from where we were.”

Australia made one change to the starting line-up that lost to Sweden with Clare Polkinghorne replacing Ellie Carpenter (suspension).

The Matildas had an early scare when Teagan Micah brilliantly tipped Christen Press’ goal-bound shot over the bar in the eighth minute.

But at the subsequent corner, the goalkeeper came off her line and was beaten by Rapinoe’s direct strike.

Micah dived to deny Press again in the 13th minute and four minutes later, Kerr delivered a captain’s goal.

Shortly after, Alanna Kennedy mis-timed her defensive clearance and the ball flew straight to Rapinoe, who smacked home a cracking volley.

A minute into injury time, Lindsey Horan dispossessed Kyah Simon and cleverly slipped it to Lloyd, who took a touch on her right then rifled a brilliant left-footed strike past Micah.

In the 51st minute, Press chipped a high ball over the top and Kennedy, going toe to toe with Lloyd, didn’t get enough on her header back to Micah.

Lloyd kept going and nutmegged the stranded goalkeeper for her second.

But just three minutes later, Kyah Simon whipped a ball to the back post and Foord brilliantly headed home.

Foord sucked in the US defenders and slipped through Kerr, who finished from a tight angle on her left.

It was the 27-year-old’s 48th international goal, seeing her overtake Lisa De Vanna as the Matildas’ all-time top scorer.

Just two minutes later, Kerr almost put Australia in front.

Tameka Yallop whipped in a delightful ball and Kerr’s glancing header forced a brilliant diving save from US goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.

In the 57th minute, Kerr headed Hayley Raso’s cross into the post and saw it cruelly deflect across goal to safety.

Defender Laura Brock, who announced her retirement earlier on Thursday, made a final appearance in the 87th minute.

Three minutes later, Gielnik gave Australia hope when she cut inside and sizzled a powerful strike past Franch – but it proved too little too late in Kashima.

-AAP