A stunning strike from Hayley Raso helped the Matildas take another step towards next year’s Women’s World Cup in Canberra on Tuesday night.
Raso marked her return to the city where she began her professional career with Canberra United with a lovely goal, bending the ball home from outside the box in Australia’s 3-1 win against New Zealand at GIO Stadium.
Coach Tony Gustavsson had called for fast combinations in the final third after his side lacked killer instinct in a 2-1 win on Friday night, where it took them 37 shots to find those goals.
Of a front third laden with talents such as Sam Kerr, Emily van Egmond, Mary Fowler and Caitlin Foord, Raso said things were really starting to click.
“We jell quite well,” she told reporters post-game.
“We’re all off at different clubs working hard there, but I feel like whenever we come back to the national team, there’s a really good cohesion.
“That also goes with whoever’s playing, whoever’s in the forward line on any given day … we can combine well and it paid off for us tonight.”
But while Raso notched her ninth international goal, it was someone with a cool 50 more than that who stole the spotlight as usual – Kerr.
The Matildas captain was in trademark devastating touch, heading home a corner from close range before latching onto an inch-perfect through ball from van Egmond and making an intricate finish look anything but difficult.
“She makes most of her finishes look easy,” Raso said.
“She’s a quality player and I feel like if she’s ever in front of goal, she’s going to put them away.
“It’s a great ball to her from Emily … (Kerr) was making those runs in behind all night and when you feed her like that she’s going to put them away.”
While her screamer was the pick of the bunch, Raso said finding the net three times as a team was a big improvement from their first meeting.
“It’s always nice to get on the scoresheet,” she said.
“We played some good football … we needed to be better in the final third and it’s something I’ve been working on.
“It’s important as a striker to get the ball in the back of the net … it gives me a bit of confidence.”