Matildas beat China 2-0 | news.com.au — Australia’s leading news site

Subs Clare Wheeler and Cortnee Vine had a decisive impact off the bench as the Matildas waved goodbye to Australia before heading to the Paris Olympics with a 2-0 win over China on Monday night.

In front of more than 76,000 fans at Sydney’s Accor Stadium, the Matildas displayed a better attack than they showed in their 1-1 draw against the same opposition at Adelaide Oval last Friday.

However, they still had to wait until the end of the half to break China’s resistance, with Wheeler and Vine being key factors in the win after entering the fray early in the second half.

Union player Wheeler, who came on for Emily van Egmond, put the hosts ahead in the 48th minute after timing her run to perfection to head home Steph Catley’s well-taken free-kick.

FC Sydney star Vine, who replaced striker Michelle Heyman, provided the assist for Australia’s second goal in the 56th minute.

Her inch-perfect ball found Hayley Raso, who rounded goalkeeper Xu Huan before slotting the ball home.

China had a few chances to claw their way back into the contest, but Matildas goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold, who replaced Lydia Williams late in the first half, successfully saved them.

The Matildas should have told in the 11th minute with a chance created by right-back Ellie Carpenter, who charmed the Chinese defense with a superb turn before bursting into the box and delivering a low cross that Wu Haiyan failed to clear .

The ball fell invitingly for an unmarked Tameka Yallop, but the Brisbane Roar star rushed her shot and failed to test goalkeeper Xu.

However, Xu was called into action five minutes later when he stood tall to keep out Matildas winger Hayley Raso, who should have done better with her chance.

But Raso made amends after half-time with a breakthrough goal as the Aussies did more than enough to win in Paris.

“We wanted to perform, we wanted to win the game, we wanted to put on a show, so we came out and did a little bit better than the last game,” Raso told Network 10.

The Matildas’ Olympic squad will be announced on Tuesday, but the players were told whether they had been selected ahead of Monday night’s game.

Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson said it was a bittersweet experience telling the players whether they were selected for the Olympics or left out.

“Obviously two extremes. It’s devastating news for some and it really breaks my heart to tell them, but you have to be honest and real and genuine and have a good support system,” he said.

Goodbye Lidija

In her 104th and likely final appearance for the Matildas, veteran goalkeeper Lydia Williams started the game and wore the captain’s armband.

Emotional before the match, as she was honored at a ceremony featuring Australian sporting great Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Williams remained composed throughout the game despite being roared by the crowd every time she touched the ball.

She then made a hero’s farewell when she was replaced by Australia’s first-choice goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold in the 43rd minute.

After handing over the captain’s armband to Steph Catley, Williams was hugged by all her teammates as she left the field.

The hugs continued as she made her way to the touchline where she shared a special moment with Arnold before being hugged by coach Tony Gustavsson and the entire Matildas bench.

Williams has announced that she will retire from international football after the upcoming Olympics.

“It was amazing to get this far,” Williams said.

We will find out on Tuesday whether she is selected in Australia’s 18-man squad for Paris or is among the four traveling reserves.

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