Women’s World Cup 2023: Catley fires penalty winner, Kerr-less Australia squeaks past Ireland in Group B opener

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Australia Ireland Women's World Cup
Australia players celebrate after Steph Catley scored the opening goal from the penalty spot during the Women’s World Cup soccer match between Australia and Ireland at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, Thursday, July 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

Australia overcame Ireland 1-0 in its Group B opener at the 2023 Women’s World Cup on Thursday despite the loss of injured star striker, Sam Kerr.

Captain Steph Catley delivered the decisive blow in the 52nd minute — a screamer of a penalty kick that found the left side netting that was unsavable for any keeper in the world. Unfortunately for Ireland, it was goalkeeper Courtney Brosnan who was the victim as she was left with little chance to stop it on a day when she had admirably kept her side in it.

The Matildas, who are one of the hosts of the competition alongside New Zealand, opened their home Women’s World Cup exactly how they intended — a win in front of 75,000 fans in Sydney. The Aussies were missing their go-to player in Kerr, who picked up a calf injury on Tuesday and will miss the first two games, but still managed to get the job done against the World Cup debutants, Ireland. 

The Aussies looked sharp from the kickoff, holding possession for the first seven minutes of the match. 

Brosnan was kept busy by the creative Australian attack who seemed to be constantly on the move. With both sides scoreless in the first half, Ireland defended bravely against waves of pressure from the hosts. There was no shortage of physicality in this Group B clash with both sides vying for an opening tournament win. 

The decisive moment came in the 52nd minute, the ball was sent across the Irish box when Ireland’s Marrisa Sheva was caught holding Hayley Raso. It was up to Catley to strike home the penalty, which she promptly did, sending the stadium into a frenzy. 

Ireland had some late attempts at goal including a flurry of threatening corner kicks from Irish captain Katie McCabe as they scrambled for a point. They were denied an equalizer on multiple occasions by Aussie goalie Mackenzie Arnold. 

Australia will face Nigeria on July 27 and Ireland will play Canada on July 26.

For more on the Women’s World Cup, visit AMNY.com