Hayley Raso scores twice as Australia thrash Canada to reach World Cup last 16

Olympic champions knocked out by Matildas, as Ireland grab first ever point at tournament

Hayley Raso, second left, celebrates with her Australia teammates after scoring her second against Canada in their Women's World Cup Group B match on July 31, 2023.   EPA
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Co-hosts Australia kept their Women's World Cup dream alive with a 4-0 thrashing of Olympic champions Canada to reach the last 16 on Monday.

The Matildas came into the clash needing victory to ensure they made the knockout stages after a stunning 3-2 defeat to Nigeria left them on a knife-edge.

They thrived on the pressure in front of more than 27,000 in Melbourne to consign Canada to an early flight home, with Hayley Raso scoring twice.

Australia top Group B ahead of Nigeria, who drew 0-0 with Ireland, and will face a clash against the second-placed team in Group D – probably Denmark or China – in the next round.

"I'm so, so proud of this team," said coach Tony Gustavsson. "The players, there's something special about this group."

Real Madrid's Raso put them ahead in the ninth minute, firing low into the corner after captain Steph Catley fed a teasing low cross.

They had a goal controversially disallowed 10 minutes before the break, but Raso made sure on their very next attack for her second with a close-range tap-in.

A shellshocked Canada made four changes at half-time, but the comeback never materialised and Mary Fowler bagged Australia's third from a counter-attack before Catley sealed victory with an injury-time penalty.

"Everybody fought for each other, you could see that out there," said Raso. "We showed that never-say-die attitude and we're absolutely delighted."

But it was the end of the road for Canada, who would have been through with a draw.

"Reality is setting in but all credit to Australia, they were the better team," coach Bev Priestman said.

"Football is cruel, it wasn't our night, and that is it."

Republic of Ireland boss Vera Pauw said her players were bowing out as “world stars” after their debut at the World Cup ended with them securing a historic point.

Having seen their last-16 hopes shattered after a 1-0 loss to co-hosts Australia and 2-1 defeat to Canada in their opening two matches, Ireland’s final match at their maiden major tournament ended in a 0-0 draw against Nigeria in Brisbane.

“It’s a fantastic feeling," said Pauw. “Nigeria are 11-time African champions and I think we really had the better play."

Pauw added: “I think we can be really, really proud because three top-10 nations – I’ve said before (40th-ranked) Nigeria for me are a top-10 nation – and we’ve played equal games against them.

“We lost by a penalty (against Australia), an own goal (against Canada) and now a draw. It is amazing.

“Those players came into the tournament as very good players, they go out of the tournament as world stars.”

Randy Waldrum’s Nigeria advance as Group B runners-up to a last-16 showdown next Monday at the same stadium against the winner of Group D – currently led by England.

Updated: July 31, 2023, 2:44 PM