CAM PHA, VIETNAM - MARCH 11: Stephanie Catley of Australia and Tran Thi Hong Nhung of Vietnam compete for the ball during the Women's Olympic Football Tournament Play-Off 2nd Leg between Vietnam and Australian Matildas at Cam Pha Stadium on March 11, 2020 in Cam Pha, Vietnam. (Photo by Linh Pham/Getty Images)
CAM PHA, VIETNAM - MARCH 11: Stephanie Catley of Australia and Tran Thi Hong Nhung of Vietnam compete for the ball during the Women's Olympic Football Tournament Play-Off 2nd Leg between Vietnam and Australian Matildas at Cam Pha Stadium on March 11, 2020 in Cam Pha, Vietnam. (Photo by Linh Pham/Getty Images)

Matildas qualify for Tokyo after completing formalities

The Matildas are off to the Olympics.

 

Goals for Sam Kerr and Hayley Raso were enough to complete a 7-1 aggregate win over Vietnam in Australia's Olympic play-off, securing Ante Milicic's side one of the Asian qualifying spots for the Tokyo Games.

 

The fact Vietnam actually scored, for the first time in nine encounters with Australia, was itself a minor shock, but not in the context of a scrappy and increasingly ragged performance from the visitors.

 

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Steph Catley tries to get the better of her Vietnamese opponent.
Steph Catley tries to get the better of her Vietnamese opponent.

To put context around it, the surface was awful and the game was twice delayed by floodlight failure, while the Matildas also hit the woodwork on three occasions.

The crucial detail though was that qualification was assured at the final whistle, with both men's and women's teams qualifying in parallel for the first time since 2004.

Kerr also had the satisfaction of moving clear as the second highest goalscorer in Australia's history, behind Lisa de Vanna, turning in her 42nd goal in the green and gold from Steph Catley's cross.

Kerr tuned provider with an unselfish pass across goal on the half-hour for Raso to tap in the second, and the lead should have been greater at halftime but for Chloe Logarzo's missed penalty for a soft-looking tug on Caitlin Foord.

Empty seats galore as fans are kept away due to the coronavirus threat.
Empty seats galore as fans are kept away due to the coronavirus threat.

Vietnam refused to be cowed by the growing deficit, and scored through a deft finish from captain Huynh Nhu after Alana Kennedy's horribly miscued back pass.

Celebrations at the end were suitably muted from the Matildas, cognisant of the underwhelming way they had limped over the line - but the crucial fact is that they will be in Tokyo, coronavirus permitting, and have a little over five months to solve the questions raised by this performance.