How Westfield W-League stars of 2020/21 fared in first Olympic outing

SOME of the brightest performers throughout the 2020/21 Westfield W-League campaign joined forces in Green and Gold as the Matildas kicked off their Olympic journey with a 2-1 win over New Zealand on Wednesday night.

The result was a pivotal one for the Matildas after the United States fell to a 3-0 defeat to Sweden to break Group C wide open heading into the second round of fixtures on July 24. 

After plying her trade at Brisbane Roar throughout the 2020/21 Westfield W-League campaign, Tameka Yallop scored the first of two goals for the Matildas against New Zealand to send Australia second on the Group C table behind Sweden on goal difference alone.

Read on to see how the players who featured through the 2020/21 W-League campaign fared in last night's memorable Olympic win!

The Matildas belt out the Australian National Anthem before facing New Zealand at Tokyo 2020
The Matildas belt out the Australian national anthem before facing New Zealand at Tokyo 2020

Tameka Yallop

Jubilant screams flooded the airways of the Seven Network broadcast as Yallop's deadly finish rippled into the roof of the net in the first half of Australia's victory over New Zealand.

The Westfield W-League PFA Team of the Season member for 2020/21 struck in the 20th minute of the game after turning the ball over deep in attack for the Green and Gold. Yallop's interception drifted toward Kyah Simon, who nodded the ball to Sam Kerr on the edge of the box. 

The one-touch move fed Yallop in on goal; her venomous strike took a deflection off the glove of Kiwi 'keeper Erin Nayler before rippling the net and putting Australia into the lead.

Yallop created one chance, took 39 touches and passed at 97.1% accuracy throughout an impressive 75-minute display. 

Clare Polkinghorne

Clare Polkinghorne was moments away from a clean sheet before Gabrielle Rennie pegged one back for New Zealand in the first minute of second-half stoppage time.

The assured defender won 75% of her 16 duels on the night, and 75% of her aerial duels to go with five ball recoveries, a passing accuracy of 81.7% from 60 attempts and 73 touches.

Clare Polkinghorne
A late goal to New Zealand denied Polkinghorne a clean sheet in her first outing at Tokyo 2020

Kyra Cooney-Cross

Cooney-Cross received 15 minutes off the bench from Matildas boss Tony Gustavsson as Australia looked to keep their two-goal lead intact in the final stages of the New Zealand clash.

In her first taste of Olympics action the 19-year-old came on alongside 18-year-old Mary Fowler as youthful exuberance replaced the experience of Simon and Yallop for the final 15 minutes of play.

Cooney-Cross was unable to create the same magic she showed throughout the final stages of the Westfield W-League season at Melbourne Victory in her 15-minute cameo, taking 14 touches and notching an accuracy of only 50% from her 12 attempted passes.

Cooney-Cross watches on as New Zealand score late in a 2-1 win for Australia
Cooney-Cross watches on as New Zealand score late in a 2-1 win for Australia

 Emily Gielnik

Westfield W-League Golden Boot winner Emily Gielnik replaced Caitlin Foord in attack for Australia deep into second-half stoppage time.

Spoilt for choice in the final third, head coach Gustavsson elected to use Gielnik from the bench against New Zealand, granting the lethal finisher just one minute in the first of three group games for the Matildas. 

The Matildas are next in action against Sweden on July 24.