They’re back.
They’re back.

Controversy explodes over Aussie golden girl

Sam Kerr had a simple message for the haters after the Matildas' astonishing 3-2 win over Brazil on Friday morning - and it's dividing the football world.

"Suck on that one!"

The Aussie captain fired off the blistering retort during a post-match TV interview, taking aim at the critics who had written her side off after a 2-1 defeat to Italy in its World Cup opener.

Australia's campaign looked shot when it went down 2-0 in the first half against Brazil but three unanswered goals turned the nightmare into a dream and the girls in gold live to fight another day as their hopes of reaching the knockout phase received a massive boost.

Sam Kerr was shooting from the hip after her team's history-making comeback against Brazil - and it showed when she was handed a microphone straight after the game.

"I'm so proud of the girls, I knew we were in it at halftime," Kerr said after the final whistle.

"There were a lot of critics talking about us but we're back so suck on that one! It's just outside noise, we don't listen to the haters.

Sam Kerr scored her first goal at the World Cup.
Sam Kerr scored her first goal at the World Cup.

"The reaction from the girls, you can see what it means to us. We were so disappointed after the first game."

Her comments have been both boldly celebrated and forcefully criticised by some football commentators.

Australia's most-capped Matildas great Cheryl Salisbury was among the first to question Kerr's colourful comments when speaking with Optus Sport after the dramatic finish.

"I probably would've chosen a few different words, but I was always a few years older when I took the captaincy," Salisbury said.

"But, it showed a bit of fire and a bit of passion, but also a bit of immaturity as well as a player and leader off the field as well.

"You've got to be able to do both, juggle both, be diplomatic occasionally when you feel something different and do what is best for the team sometimes and take away your personal opinion occasionally."

Matildas legend Heather Garriock also said Kerr's words have taken the focus away from the team's epic performance and shined the spotlight back on the pre-World Cup coaching dramas that have plagued the team in 2019.

"In terms of critics and outside noise, I think they need to focus on themselves," she said.

"If she is talking about the media, the Matildas shouldn't be listening to the media.

"When you're in camp, on the world stage, at a World Cup, you shouldn't be listening to anything other than the coach and your teammates."

Other football commentators have called for Kerr's post-game clapback to be immortalised.

Kerr was kept quiet for much of the first half but she saved her best work for off the ball. In injury time she moved away from the drop zone when a cross came in from the left, taking defenders with her. It gave Chloe Logarzo more room to move and her header found Caitlin Foord, who scored Australia's first goal.

Kerr also dragged defenders to the ball and they were so distracted by her they missed the most important thing on the pitch as Logarzo found an equaliser in the second stanza. The skipper played her part again when the Brazilian marking her scored an own goal to provide the Matildas' winner.

Australia coach Ante Milicic would have been a worried man sitting on the sideline watching his troops concede two goals in the first half but they dragged themselves back into the contest through sheer willpower more than anything else.

"It's a big result and we needed it today," Milicic said. "It was a real Australian performance from these girls and I'm very proud of them.

"I think to come from 2-0 down, if anyone questioned the character of this team they answered in the best possible way.

"Delighted for the girls because they really deserved that."

KERR CAUGHT IN CONTROVERSY

What a rollercoaster.
What a rollercoaster.

While Kerr was bullish after the match her most pivotal involvement was embroiled in controversy. Initially Brazil's own goal - Australia's third - wasn't given because the linesperson raised her flag for Kerr being offside.

Normally to be offside you need to touch the ball, which Kerr didn't, but the assistant believed the Aussie superstar affected how her defender reacted to the play. In that case Kerr would have been deemed to have interfered with play and an offside call would be appropriate.

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was called for - as it so often was during the match - and after a long delay it was decided Kerr didn't interfere with her defender or the play and the winner stood, much to Australia's delight.

 

However, there were plenty who believed the 25-year-old should not have been let off the hook. Coach of the Manchester United women's team and BBC analyst Casey Stoney argued the Brazilian defender only leapt for the ball and headed into her own net because of Kerr's presence.

"In my opinion it's affected the defender's decision making," Stoney said during the BBC broadcast.

"If I'm a defender I'm saying she (Kerr) is interfering because if she's not there I don't have to head it."

Sam Kerr’s team are back.
Sam Kerr’s team are back.

Former England international Laura Bassett agreed, saying: "Because it's so central it does affect you going for the ball."

They weren't alone in their views as others in the football world believed Australia enjoyed a lucky escape.

However, some were prepared to back the crucial decision, like former Australian football player Francis Awaritefe.

"As long as the ball hadn't reached Sam Kerr, the fact she was in an offside position is not relevant, if she doesn't impede her marker from playing the ball, which she didn't," he wrote on Twitter.

Ex-Matilda Heather Garriock was more than happy to run with the call, even if she suggested the Aussies were probably fortunate to get away with it.

"We've got to take the goals because there have been so many times when calls have gone against us in big games like this," Garriock told Optus Sport. "Just fantastic the luck fell our way.

"Was Sam Kerr impeding? Who knows, but at the end of the day it was a goal and we won 3-2."

The was also some late drama just minutes form full-time when Brazil had a last-ditch penalty shout that VAR decided wasn't legitimate. Brazilian legend Marta - who was subbed off at halftime - was visibly filthy on the sideline, yelling and gesturing with her hands and a team official nearby was also suggesting his side had been hard done by.

News Corp Australia

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