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Sam Kerr’s Matildas claim Cup of Nations

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The Matildas have claimed the Cup of Nations with a 3-0 win against Argentina sparked, once again, by captain Sam Kerr.

The Australian skipper rose bravely and superbly to give her side a lead with a header after less than four minutes, ensuring a Matildas’ win was never in doubt on Wednesday night at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.

Alanna Kennedy doubled Australia’s advantage from Elise Kellond-Knight’s corner from the other flag on the half-hour mark.

Caitlin Foord completed the rout with an injury-time penalty.

It was not the overpowering that many were predicting, and the South Americans butchered several chances to score their first goal of the tournament.

But it was enough to claim the trophy ahead of South Korea, which earlier defeated New Zealand 2-0 at the same ground.

The Matildas claimed three wins in Ante Milicic’s first week in charge; beating New Zealand 2-0 in Sydney and South Korea 4-1 in Brisbane.

While all three opponents are bound for June’s World Cup in France, none have serious designs on winning the tournament like Australia do, making the Matildas’ triumph an expected result.

But given the Matildas’ month of struggle that followed coach Alen Stajcic’s firing and Milicic’s hiring, there was plenty of merit in their toil.

Coach Milicic made nine changes to the side that ran away from South Korea in Brisbane and he subsequently witnessed strong Australian performances across the park.

Kennedy was superb in defence, as was Steph Catley who deputised for Laura Alleway at centre back after she was injured in the first half.

Amy Harrison was bright on her first national team start in two years, as was her half-time replacement Aivi Luik.

Up front, Kerr and long-time strike partner Foord were fleet of foot, keeping the Argentinian defence honest all night.

Alex Chidiac was unlucky not to also get on the scoresheet with a second-half volley, before Catley’s injury-time tumble in the box brought Foord to the spot.

Foord dispatched the penalty before lifting her shirt to reveal a hand-written message of ‘We Love You Coops’; a tribute to teammate Caitlin Cooper.

Cooper’s father died earlier this week, with the Matildas also wearing black armbands to salute the defender’s loss.

South Korea has strong finish against Kiwis

So-yun Ji’s long-range strike helped South Korea to a 2-0 win over New Zealand in their final Cup of Nations clash.

The Chelsea star climbed off the bench to change the game, turning Melbourne City defender Rebekah Stott inside out before firing home past Erin Nayler.

Another substitute, Mi-ra Moon, pounced on a spilled shot from the same keeper to double South Korea’s advantage as full-time loomed.

The result means South Korea finished second in the friendly tournament.

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