Mary Fowler steers Matildas to send-off victory over France


What does France win tell us about Matildas' World Cup chances?

Marissa Lordanic reviews Australia's 1-0 win over France in their final warmup match before the start of the World Cup.

The Matildas will head into the Women's World Cup high on confidence after Mary Fowler delivered a hard-fought 1-0 victory over France in their final tune-up match.

Australia had struggled to find a cutting edge against the world No.5 side in the final third, in front of a record home crowd of 50,629 at Marvel Stadium, until 20-year-old Fowler coolly dispatched the only goal in the 66th minute.

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But six days out from their opening match against Ireland, Australia will sweat on the fitness of veteran Tameka Yallop.

Yallop's left knee hyperextended when she challenged for the ball in the 74th minute and she was substituted eight minutes later.

Surely particularly pleasing for coach Tony Gustavsson was that the goal arrived after Sam Kerr and Caitlin Foord had already come off , four minutes earlier.

Kyra Cooney-Cross slipped through Hayley Raso on the right and the winger burst forward and cut the ball back for Fowler.

Fowler, who has recovered from a fractured back, took a lovely touch and smoothly finished on her left.

"We felt we created enough opportunities into the final third to be up one or two goals," Gustavsson said.

"But that final timing of a pass or run or the final touch wasn't really there.

"Raso's final pass (was) straight from the training ground ... her presence when she's running with that speed to look up and see that Mary's open and then the quality of that pass and Mary's finish is obviously something we're very pleased with.

"But I'm also pleased with the players' patience."

Fowler delighted in her instinctive finish after linking up with former Manchester City teammate Fowler.

"I saw her running and I was like I'm in so much space and then she took a touch and I was like 'oh no'," Fowler told reporters.

"But then she still played it. You don't really think in those moments, you just do it.

"I just took a touch and I was like 'you better score', and I did."

Defender Alanna Kennedy started in her first game for the Matildas since September 3.

Kennedy, who has fought through multiple injuries over the past year, replaced Clare Polkinghorne as Clare Hunt's central defensive partner.

The pair had some nervous moments but largely stayed composed and scrambled well when needed.

For the first 60 minutes, Australia created several good openings but were let down by their final ball, and had to scramble to block three strong France efforts from Selma Bacha, Grace Geyoro and Kadidiatou Diani.

Mary Fowler of the Matildas celebrates scoring a goal
Mary Fowler of the Matildas celebrates scoring a goal
Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

"Congratulations to Australia. I think they deserved to win this game but it's only a preparation game," France coach Herve Renard told reporters.

"Sometimes you can lose the first game in the World Cup and then be champions of the world."

France star Selma Bacha (ankle) was stretchered off in the closing stages.

"I can't tell you anything more because now it's swelling and we have to wait for the exams and just to be patient and be optimistic," Renard said.

In the 13th minute, Foord played Kerr in behind but the Australian skipper couldn't pick out anyone with her squaring ball.

Four minutes later, France's Selma Bacha shot straight at Mackenzie Arnold and in the 20th minute, Hunt cleared a venomous attempt from Grace Geyoro.

Katrina Gorry slipped through Foord six minutes later and she charged through the 18-yard box and skipped past Wendie Renard, only to be denied by French goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin.

In the 32nd minute Kadidiatou Diani forced a good goal-saving clearance from Steph Catley.

Shortly after, Kerr burst away but failed to find anyone with her squaring ball.

France's Grace Geyoro unsuccessfully appealed for a penalty after a one-on-one with Hunt in the 43rd minute.

Katrina Gorry went on an incredible mazy run in the 54th minute but had her final attempted through-ball blocked.

Kerr and Foord made way in the 62nd minute.

Four minutes later, Fowler, who has recovered from a fractured back, took a lovely touch and smoothly finished on her left.

Yallop limped off in the 82nd minute while France star Bacha was stretchered off in the closing stages.