Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson had impact sub Emily van Egmond to thank after her second-half cameo helped Australia sink Brazil 3-1 in Sydney.
The victory was Gustavsson’s first on home soil and just his third since taking charge of the Matildas at the start of 2021.
It largely relied upon the impact of van Egmond to get Australia over the line late in the second half on Saturday night after some probing questions from Brazil.
Van Egmond scored the last goal of the night, also setting up Mary Fowler for the Matildas’ second after Clare Polkinghorne gave the home side the lead just before halftime.
“She comes in as a game-changer in that No.10 role (and) it’s not just about how we start the game but also about how we finish,” Gustavsson said.
“She comes in and has one assist and one goal which shows when she’s playing higher up she can give us points.”
While they scored three, there were times Australia looked shaky.
Whenever they lost possession space opened up for the visitors.
Giovanna Quieroz looked to latch onto one through ball and, were it not for a cynical foul from Alanna Kennedy, the Brazilians could well have been away.
Kennedy, who was handed the captain’s armband in her 100th game for the Matildas, was shown a yellow card as the visitors continued to probe Australia’s defence.
She was culpable when, in the 68th minute, she lost her footing to allow Adriana to get hold of a loose ball and finish past Lydia Williams.
“Maybe that (error) can blind the performance but you need to look at the other 93 minutes she played as well,” Gustavsson said.
“She played a lot more confident than in the Ireland game. She knew it was a special game.”
Australia, though, had the upper hand for much of the first half with the pressure eventually tolling for Brazil just before the break.
A free kick just outside the penalty box was the platform Australia needed with an inch-perfect delivery from Steph Catley finding Sam Kerr.
A perfect Kerr header cushioned the ball into the path of Polkinghorne who drove home from close range.
After some nervous moments to start the second half, the Matildas found their groove with van Egmond floating in a well-weighted cross for Fowler to head home in the 66th minute.
Kennedy’s blunder then let Adriana in as Marta and Debinha were deployed for the last 20 minutes as Brazil went in search of a result.
But in the 80th minute Catley cut the ball back from the byline with van Egmond able to sidefoot home from 12 yards out to put the result beyond doubt.