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Australia had a superb comeback from 2-0 down to outclass Brazil in a five-goal thriller and inflicting a first group-stage defeat on the South Americans in 24 years.

Australia-celebrate

The Matildas suffered a surprise loss to Italy in their opening game and their campaign looked in serious trouble when they trailed to a Marta penalty and Cristiane’s fourth strike in two matches.

But the Matildas levelled through Caitlin Foord’s poked finish and Chloe Logarzo’s cross-shot either side of half-time, with Marta needing to be withdrawn with a knock at the interval, having earlier extended her record tally to 16 World Cup goals.

Brazil, who beat Jamaica last time out through a memorable Cristiane hat-trick, had not lost a group stage match at the finals since 1995.

Marta, who missed Brazil’s first game through injury, arrived in France with a one-goal lead in the Women’s World Cup goal standings over former Germany star Birgit Prinz and ex-USA forward Abby Wambach, who both retired with 14 goals at the finals.

And the Orlando Pride star’s 16th saw her become Brazil’s record scorer at senior World Cups as she surpassed iconic former Real Madrid forward Ronaldo’s 15, while moving level with Germany’s Miroslav Klose at the top of the standings.

She coolly converted from the spot after Australia’s Elise Kellond-Knight had dragged back Leticia Santos in the box, before Cristiane’s fine leap and header into the corner made it 2-0.

And the 2007 runners-up appeared to be in full control of Thursday’s thriller in Montpellier upon entering first-half stoppage time, before Foord’s close-range finish gave Australia hope.

Kerr’s darting runs in to the box caused Brazil’s defence significant problems, and she had a role to play in both of their second-half goals.

She attacked the six-yard box as Logarzo’s cross bounced towards goal and, although she did not get a touch on it, her intent was enough to distract the goalkeeper.

The Australians, who are ranked sixth in the world, are now level with Brazil and the Italians on three points in Group C, before Jamaica and Italy meet in their second match in Reims on Friday, in the most evenly poised group at the tournament.

Moments before initially falling behind, Australia wanted a penalty of their own, after Tameka Yallop was brought down by Thaisa, but after studying VAR, it became clear that Yallop’s hand had made contact with the ball seconds earlier.

And the VAR drama continued with the game’s decisive goal, as a long, dangerous ball forward – aimed towards the offside Matildas captain Kerr – flicked off Monica’s head and dropped in to the far corner of the net, but the officials felt Kerr’s role was not sufficient to disallow the goal, even though Monica had been trying to track Kerr’s run.

In a statement Australia coach Ante Milicic said “Tonight is one of the finest Australian performances that I’ve seen. The players deserve all the rewards they were given. They never stopped believing. Hopefully this brings our country together.

“As the game went on we looked very strong. Physically, we’re in great condition. Recovery is going to be important for us and then we move forward to the Jamaica game.”

Australia are just the second side in Women’s World Cup history to win a match having been at least two goals behind, after Sweden beat Germany 3-2 in 1995.

By Olukayode Oniwinde

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