AUSTRALIAN coach Alen Stajcic has saluted the Matildas’ defensive effort following their historic 1-0 triumph over Brazil at the Women’s World Cup.
Kyah Simon’s 80th-minute finish settled the contest and returned Australia to their third straight Cup quarter-final.
Australia celebrate their win over BrazilSource: The Advertiser
But it was Elise Kellond-Knight who picked up her second straight player-of-the-match award for her defensive shielding role in midfield.
Kellond-Knight said she was “super proud” of her teammates for winning through to the last eight.
“There’s a sense of satisfaction, we’ve worked so hard for this,” she said.
At her second World Cup, the accolades aren’t new for the 24-year-old.
Kellond-Knight was voted as the tournament’s best left-back in 2011 but has been re-cast as a midfielder in 2015.
Stajcic said the award was just reward for “KK” who fought her way into the Matildas first 11 on the eve of the tournament. “To be honest, she was struggling for a starting spot two or three weeks before the tournament,” he said.
“There’s a huge internal rivalry we’ve developed within the team, competition for spots.
“She had to reflect and come back and work harder and we’re seeing the results of that now.
“She’s a world-class footballer and I think every game she’s getting better and better.” That competition for places relegated Simon to the bench against Brazil.
Elise Kellond-Knight and Marta contest for a loose ballSource: AFP
After replacing Michelle Heyman on the hour mark, the Sydney FC striker made sure her presence was felt with a rebounding volley after Lisa De Vanna’s shot was spilt.