“It’s one of the finest Australian performances I’ve seen,” Ante Milicic — who became Australia’s coach in January after Alen Stajcic’s surprise sacking — told reporters.
The Matildas fought back against a side that had last lost a group stage match in 1995, ending a run of three consecutive defeats in the process.
“I’m really really proud for the girls because it hasn’t been easy for them,” added Milicic, taking charge of only his seventh game.
“They deserve all the rewards that they were given. The circumstances that we won the game and the three points will be a massive confidence booster for them so I’m really delighted for them. They never stopped believing, the coaching staff never stopped believing.”
It was Elise Kellond-Knight who held onto the falling Leticia Santos for too long inside the box to allow Marta — who was substituted at the break — to score from the penalty spot and add to her status as the most prolific goalscorer in Women’s World Cup history.
Cristiane — who on Sunday became the oldest player to score a World Cup hat-trick in either the men’s and women’s version — scored her fourth of the tournament with a delicate, but precise, header into the bottom-right corner.
Australia’s third goal was only given after a lengthy VAR review.
After Monica had headed the ball into her own net, the goal was initially disallowed as Kerr was deemed offside. But having reviewed the play, the referee awarded the goal, judging that Kerr — running into the box and a few meters ahead of Monica — was not interfering with play.