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Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord deliver hat-tricks as Matildas maul the Philippines in Olympic qualifier

Through a brooding sky the clouds parted directly above the turf as if to say, “Matildas, it’s time to shine.” And so they did, with unforgiving ferocity against the Philippines, delivering an 8-0 thrashing in front of an adoring crowd of nearly 60,000 as hat-tricks from Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord and another a level of class from Mary Fowler and Clare Wheeler put the Matildas that bit closer to 2024 Olympic qualification.

After some newer Matildas faces were given a chance to test their mettle against Iran, coach Tony Gustavsson opted to return to his strongest starting XI from the recent Women’s World Cup.

Matildas fringe players impress before experience finishes off Iran | Jo KhanRead more

The Matildas deftly navigated the middle and forward thirds with poise and patience, a perfect showcase of why this team powered their way to a fourth-place finish at the World Cup.

The opening goal was a thing of beauty. A series of elegant connections from one end of the pitch to the other, a true team effort. Centre back Alanna Kennedy switched the ball over to Raso who passed inside to Kerr. Sprinting past on the overlap, wingback Ellie Carpenter took the through ball from Kerr and crossed it in to Foord’s feet. Faced with a wall of defenders Foord slickly flicked it back for Fowler to pounce on. It was the antithesis of the scrambling attacking the less experienced Matildas side displayed against Iran.

A second followed not long after and it was all Foord, running up the left and into the area before cutting back to Kerr who dispatched the ball into the back of the net with clinical precision. The third put Foord on the scoresheet, this time a millimetre-perfect cross from Fowler finding Kerr in position to touch it to Foord to slot past the Philippines goalkeeper Olivia McDaniel.

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Caitlin Foord and Sam Kerr celebrate another Matildas goal in the AFC Women’s Asian Olympic qualifier at Optus Stadium in Perth.Caitlin Foord and Sam Kerr celebrate another Matildas goal in the AFC Women’s Asian Olympic qualifier at Optus Stadium in Perth. Photograph: James Worsfold/Getty Images

While they stayed firmly shut on Thursday evening, the floodgates were well and truly opened by the Matildas this time around. Foord’s second goal in the 34th minute showed why she is one of the best forwards in the world, as she made her way through two defenders to score. The Matildas seemed to increase urgency as the first half went on, refusing to take their foot off the gas against a static Philippines side – Kerr making it 5-0 in added time.

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Matildas thrash Philippines 8-0: Olympic women’s football qualifying – as it happenedRead more

The flowing football continued in the second half, Kerr taking just 24 seconds to notch her fourth hat-trick for the Matildas thanks to yet another pinpoint cross from Fowler. Foord following with her own hat-trick 10 minutes later, hopping around the defender on the touchline and blasting it into the far corner from the tightest of angles.

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With Australia at 7-0 there was a reversal of the situation in their last game, an injection of youth coming on just after the hour mark. Kerr, Raso, Kyra-Cooney Cross and Katrina Gorry made way for Cortnee Vine and Amy Sayer up front and Emily van Egmond and Clare Wheeler given the chance to repeat their impressive combination against Iran.

It was hard to believe the scoring could get any more spectacular than what fans had been witness to so far, but Wheeler decided to up the ante in the 72nd minute. After running up the right, Carpenter cut back to Foord on the edge of the area who set it up for Wheeler to belt home for her first Matildas goal.

The Philippines strengthened their low block in the second half, stymying the flow of Matildas goals. Sayer came close to her debut goal in the 84th but left her run on to Carpenter’s cross a moment too late and collided with the goalkeeper. Another chance came from a Steph Catley free kick in the 90th, with Sayer sending her header over the crossbar.

With this resounding victory the Matildas sit comfortable on top of their group in this second round of Olympic qualification. Barring any upsets in the final matches of this tournament, Australia will placed to avoid facing powerhouse Japan in the third and final qualifying round in February.