Team GB crash out of Tokyo 2020 after losing to Australia in seven-goal thriller

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Sam Kerr - Atsushi Tomura/Getty
Sam Kerr - Atsushi Tomura/Getty

In the annals of British football’s ‘what might have been?’ tournament exits, this will forever live among the most agonising of them. Ultimately, despite a heroic hat-trick from Ellen White, Team GB’s hopes of a women’s football medal are over after a disappointing 4-3 quarter-final defeat after extra time against Australia.

Jam-packed with pure sporting drama, this breathless contest in Kashima will have left the GB squad and their emotionally-exhausted supporters with multiple key takeaways, but overwhelmingly with a familiar feeling of being so near, yet so far.

Principally, there was cruelty, as Mary Fowler’s deflected strike looped into the top corner of the GB net to put Australia 3-2 up just one minute and 22 seconds after Caroline Weir’s penalty had been saved by Teagan Micah at the other end.

Caroline Weir's penalty is saved in extra time - Getty Images
Caroline Weir's penalty is saved in extra time - Getty Images

There was great misfortune, too, as GB hit the woodwork three times in the first half and then saw Micah pull off three sublime saves in extra time when the score was 2-2. And then there was admirable courage, as Hege Riise’s team valiantly battled back from 4-2 down late on to make it 4-3 with their talismanic striker White completing her hat-trick with a well-placed header.

Yet there was also exasperatingly poor defending for which GB can only blame themselves, particularly when a place in their first Olympic semi-final seemed to be within their grasp. Sam Kerr, the winner of the WSL’s golden boot last season, was afforded far too much time and space in the GB penalty area to chest a high ball down and shoot low to make it 2-2 in the 89th minute.

Similarly, GB will regret that Australia were able to score straight from a move that began with the Aussies' kick-off at the start of the second-half of extra time to make it 4-2, as Kerr out-jumped GB skipper Steph Houghton to head in off the underside off the bar.

The preamble to all that drama beyond the 89th minute had earlier seen GB battle back from 1-0 down to deservedly lead 2-1 thanks to White, who headed home Lauren Hemp’s precise cross to equalise and then took advantage of a sloppy clearance to place into the corner. The Matildas had led before half-time when former Tottenham defender Alanna Kennedy headed in Arsenal wing-back Steph Catley’s corner, shortly after GB’s Keira Walsh, Rachel Daly and Hemp had all hit the woodwork.

In the end, Micah was the heroine for Australia, who are ranked ninth in the world and are now through to their first major semi-final. She dived low to her left to save Weir’s spot-kick, after Nikita Parris had been fouled. On Weir’s miss, Riise said: “We win and lose together, so there’s no one to blame.

“We stood up and fought together and it wasn’t enough from any of us today, so we’re disappointed. We are devastated right now. It’s hard to lose a game like this."

Competing in women’s football at the Olympics for only the second time, GB had hoped to go on to claim a historic first medal, and GB’s first football medal for a male or female side for 109 years. Visibly-emotional Arsenal and GB defender Leah Williamson fronted up for the post-match press conference and said the final whistle had "felt like being hit by a train", before concluding: "I know all the girls will be just as proud as I am that they’ve had this experience, that they’ve represented GB, and fought like that in front of the world for the country.

“But we didn’t just want to come here and celebrate being Olympians - we wanted gold, we wanted to win. Nobody will be thinking about anything past this for a while.”

11:42 AM

Australia took their chances when it mattered

What a game. Did Australia deserve it? On balance, yes. The Matildas took their chances when it mattered and caught GB off guard on too many times against the run of play.

What a tournament it's been for Ellen White, though. The England and Man City forward has been excellent in Japan and GB's most clinical player, scoring six goals and her first Team GB hat-trick.

There's a tame embrace from Chelsea teammates Sam Kerr and Fran Kirby, who is understandably disappointed.

11:34 AM


It's all over. After an absolute thriller, it's Australia who advance to their first ever semi-final at the Olympics!

GB are out.

11:33 AM

121 mins GB 3 - 4 Australia

Yallop takes her time with a throw-in, before finding Kerr, who is brought down. Australia are eating away at the seconds now..

11:31 AM

120 mins GB 3 - 4 Australia

Two more minutes of extra, extra time.. it's now or never for GB.

11:31 AM

119 mins GB 3 - 4 Australia

Hemp is encouraging GB on from the bench, as GB waste another chance from a corner. Australia are just booting the ball clear at any given opportunity now. Both teams running on vapours.

11:30 AM

117 mins GB 3 - 4 Australia

Time is racing now. There'll be a couple more minutes bolted onto extra time but GB need to find something now. White's given them a fighting chance..

11:28 AM

115 mins - GB 3 - 4 Australia - GB SCORE!

GB pull one back and it's Ellen White with her first Team GB hat-trick!

Fran Kirby hangs the ball in the air with a perfectly weighted chip and White, so prolific she has been in the air in this tournament, helps the ball on with her head and it floats into the goal. This time Micah is powerless.

An absolutely crazy game.

11:26 AM

112 mins GB 2 - 4 Australia

It's all looking rather ragged from GB now. Weir sends in a cross towards White, who falls to the ground - no penalty shout and the ball rolls out for a corner..

11:22 AM

109 mins GB 2 - 4 Australia

The timing of Australia's goals has been impeccable, scoring straight after Weir's missed penalty and from the restart after the first half of extra time.

You have to ask the question: had Weir converted from the spot, would GB have gone onto concede two goals? They've had their heads down since Micah's heroics between the sticks.

Bronze with a long-range effort but it's too tame for Micah.

11:19 AM

106 mins GB 2 - 4 Australia - THE MATIDAS SCORE AGAIN!

GB are heading out. They've switched off completely from the restart as Australia pour forward and Yallop delivers a cross into towards Kerr... who jumps off the ground and outmuscles Houghton to direct a thumping header straight towards the goal! Devastation for GB as Kerr leads the celebrations - I don't think even she can believe what's happened..

11:16 AM

105 mins HT GB 2 - 3 Australia

We've reached the halfway point in extra time. GB have 15 minutes to save themselves from an Olympic exit.

GB look dejected - Bronze is sat on the floor with her teammates standing over her. The deflection for Fowler's goal was unlucky, but you can tell she's replaying it over in her mind.

11:13 AM


Can you believe what's just happened? Australia, clearly buoyed by Micah's heroics in goal, race down the field and it's none other than 18-year-old Mary Fowler who plucks the ball out from the air and hits it on the half volley with venom. It takes a deflection of Lucy Bronze and flies into the top of the net! Roebuck is helpless... Australia lead!

11:11 AM

102 mins GB 2 - 2 Australia - WEIR DENIED FROM THE SPOT!

It's Caroline Weir who grabs the ball with both hands.. but the Scotland international fires her shot to the right and Micah, who has been brilliant this entire game saves!

11:09 AM


Williamson finds Parris in the area who tries a shot, but it's blocked.

GB regain possesion easily and and send the ball back in towards Parris.. and is nudged in the back by Ellie Carpenter! GB have a penalty! A quick video check confirms the decision.

11:06 AM

97 mins GB 2 - 2 Australia


There's been plenty of drama in the other quarter-finals so far, too. Canada have just beaten Brazil 4-3 on penalties after a tense goalless draw, meaning the Canadians are through to the semi-finals for the third consecutive Olympics. That contest against Brazil was a repeat of the 2016 bronze medal match. Now Canada will face either Holland or the USA, who are just about to kick-off. Meanwhile, Sweden and hosts Japan's last-eight tie is level at 1-1 at half-time.

11:05 AM

94 mins - GB 2 - 2 Australia - GB CHANCE!

Micah is called into action again in the ensuing corner, where the ball falls into the path of Ellen White. We're all expecting her to smash it into the goal, but a sea of yellow shirts rush across this time and do just enough to disrupt her shot towards goal, but Micah is there.

Nikita Parris is on for Lauren Hemp.

11:02 AM

92 mins - GB 2 - 2 Australia

And we're underway. This is where it comes down to the fittest team on the pitch. Australia press and Mary Fowler delivers a ball in but it's met by Millie Bright, who heads away.

GB regain possession and it's WALSH who tries a shot from range but it's a brilliant tip over from Micah.

10:58 AM

GB trying to keep their cool

GB players are donning ice jackets as they take a quick breather while Tony Gustavsson, the Australia head coach, is barking instructions at his players. GB's coach Hege Riise, by contrast, looks quite calm.

Both sides will be allowed to make one extra substitution in the next 30 minutes.

An update from Tom Garry:

.. And breathe, everyone. I don't know about anyone else but I'm running to put the kettle on. This extra-time spell should be fascinating. Both teams have been pushing for a winner. GB will be kicking themselves, because that was really poor defending to give Sam Kerr so much space when an Olympic semi-final was within their grasp, but they have to put that behind them now.

10:55 AM

We're going to extra-time..

And the whistle blows for the end of normal time. You can't help but feel Australia have the momentum now with that late Sam Kerr strike. This will be the ultimate test for Team GB.

10:53 AM

93 mins GB 2 - 2 Australia

GB pour forward in search of a late winner. Walsh looks to try her luck on the edge of the box but thinks better off it, instead passing to Bronze, who loses out to Tameka Yallop.

10:51 AM

90 mins GB 2 - 2 Australia

We have five minutes of extra time, as GB look to reset after that late goal..

10:48 AM


What drama we have here! Australia have pulled one back at the death!

It's Kennedy who launches a long-range cross into the box - it's intended for no one else but Kerr - and this time GB have no answer. Kerr controls the ball impeccably and has all the time in the world to convert a low, fierce shot into the back of the net.

10:46 AM

87 mins GB - 2 - 1 Australia

Australia force another corner.. Catley sends it in.. but GB stand firm only to concede a foul. Catley again, but Bronze gets her head on it...

10:44 AM

84 mins GB - 2 - 1 Australia

GB are getting closer by the minute, as Ellen White tries her luck for a hat-trick, but this time florescent yellow shirts quickly swarm around her. Australia press again and threaten with a long-range throw in, but GB regain possession and suddenly Hemp tries her luck from far out. She notices Micah is off her line and launches the ball forward, but it's just wide.. the 20-year-old isn't lacking in confidence.

10:37 AM

80 mins GB - 2 - 1 Australia

Jill Scott comes on for the last minutes to steady the ship for GB..

10:37 AM

77 mins GB - 2 - 1 Australia

Catley takes, and the ball is directed towards Foord, but GB deal with it.

Shrieks of 'No way!' from Lauren Hemp, who tangles herself up with Raso in the corner. Another set piece for the Matildas in a very dangerous area. Catley sends in a low ball.. and Kyah Simon gets a touch but it's wide. GB can breathe.

10:34 AM

75 mins GB - 2 - 1 Australia

We're into the last quarter. GB are 15 minutes away from a first ever Olympics semi-final.

Houghton guilty of clambering over Caitlin Foord to illegally win a header to win a free-kick in a dangerous area...

10:32 AM

72 mins GB - 2 - 1 Australia

We've just had a stoppage after Kim Little clashed heads... the Scot is now sporting a bandage round her head.

Even despite the small break GB pick up where they left off - they have a real spring in their step now - they've done ridiculously well to turn this match around in a matter of minutes. And Fran Kirby is now on the pitch too - what a time to bring on the Chelsea star.

Hemp goes down in the box, but no penalty shout.

10:28 AM

70 mins GB - 2 - 1 Australia

Tom Garry assesses that crucial goal for Team GB who, right now are on their way to the semis..

That's poor defending from the Australians but Ellen White's finishing is ruthless and she has now scored five of the 11 goals GB have scored across their two Olympics Games appearances in women's football, and five of the six in Japan. Where would they be without her this summer?

10:27 AM

65 mins - GB SCORE AGAIN!

Scrap that last post, make it five goals in this Olympic games for Ellen White!

Leah Williamson directs a long throw-in into the penalty area towards the Man City striker, and she helps the ball on with her head. There's no other GB players who are threatening, but Hemp comes across to hustle the Matildas' centre-back pairing who fail to clear.

The ball rolls out to White, who needs no invitation to shoot - and there's just enough power behind her shot as Micah parries the ball into the goal.

10:24 AM

Three starts, four goals for White...

From Tom Garry:

Three starts, four goals. Ellen White is having an Olympic Games to remember.

And the frame of that goal Ellie Roebuck is currently defending is having a day to remember! It's been struck four times overall today by both teams.


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Ellen White celebrates her equaliser with Rachel Daly

Ellen White


Atsushi Tomura

10:19 AM

57 mins GB - 1 - 1 Australia

GB survive a major scare there.. Australia race down the other end and GB are guilty of ball watching, as Houghton deals with a difficult cross but the ball bounces dangerously up to clip the bar.

10:17 AM


It had to be, didn't it? It's none other than Ellen White with her fourth goal of the tournament for Team GB and it's come out of nowhere!

Hemp, who has been causing problems for the Matildas all game, sends in a perfectly weighted cross towards her Man City teammate and Ellen White connects with the ball cleanly and executes a brilliant glancing header which sails past Micah.

Game on - that's exactly the sort of lift GB needed.

10:14 AM

52 mins GB - 0 - 1 Australia

Australia's Carpenter sends a long throw into the box and the ball bobbles around awkwardly despite Houghton getting her head on it.

It falls to Kerr, who doesn't have enough time to compose herself and she swipes an effort well over the bar.

Next up it's Raso's turn to send in an inviting cross - the Matildas are having a lot of luck down their wings and GB are struggling to deal with their aerial threat.

There's no doubt about it, Australia have started this half with much more intent and Riise's side look sluggish - how long will it be until she stars to ring the changes?

Bronze - HENRY ROMERO/Reuters
Bronze - HENRY ROMERO/Reuters

10:08 AM

48 mins GB - 0 - 1 Australia

Did GB have a penalty shout there? Hemp tears into the box and looks to be nudged off the ball.

It's being looked at by the video officials but... no.

10:07 AM

46 mins GB - 0 - 1 Australia

No changes yet from Riise, although she's got Georgia Stanyay, Sophie Ingle and Fran Kirby all on the bench.

Australia press high from the off and force a corner. Catley sends it in, but GB clear comfortably, although they come again.

Hayley Raso finds herself this time with a free header in the box, she launches herself at the ball but it's an easy gather for Roebuck.

You feel the next goal in this game, if there is one, will be crucial.

10:02 AM

More analysis from Tom Garry

In the first half an hour we saw the best of GB in these Olympics so far. Since then, the atmosphere has been a lot more subdued. Hege Riise does have excellent options off the bench, not least Fran Kirby and Nikita Parris, so don't count them out just yet.

10:01 AM

The teams come out for the second half

It's GB who run out onto the pitch first, warming up and jumping about. They look fired up.

09:48 AM

HALF TIME: GB - 0 - 1 Australia

GB will have to stage a comeback if they want a result from this one. Hege Riise's side will be disappointed with the manner in which they conceded that Matildas' goal, which came from a set-piece.

Like they did in their final group game against Canada, GB will have to come from a goal down if they want to avoid an Olympic exit..

09:47 AM

44 mins GB - 0 - 1 Australia

Lucy Bronze gets her name in the book after going in hard on Steph Catley, who sends in a free-kick. Roebuck catches it easily, but you get the sense GB have been a bit rattled by that Australia goal.

One added minute added on in this half as Hayley Raso looks to launch another attack.

09:42 AM

A goal made in the WSL, and in north London

Tom Garry breaks down that goal for us:

That's typical football, after all of GB's early pressure, they didn't score and now Australia have made them pay via two of their London-based contingent.

Arsenal's Steph Catley with the cross, Alanna Kennedy, who technically doesn't have a club as her contract with Spurs ended this summer, with the free header...

09:40 AM


After all the pressure and chances for Team GB, it's Australia who break the deadlock against the run of play!

From the ensuring corner, Catley finds Tottenham player Alana Kennedy thumps a header past Ellie Roebuck into the back of the net! Advantage Australia.

09:35 AM

34 mins GB - 0 - 0 Australia

Walsh finds Ellen White down the right, she does just enough to keep the ball as GB press high again. Both teams look relaxed when they're in possession, but GB just look that little bit sharper, passing the ball around with precision.

Sam Kerr goes on a run down the right - the first time she's properly stretched her legs in this game - and forces a corner.

09:30 AM

28 mins GB - 0 - 0 Australia

Once again, Hemp is leading the line for GB up front. Ellen White has earned all the plaudits as GB's top goal scorer so far in this tournament, but the 20-year-old is showcasing why she deserves a place in GB starting side.

Sam Kerr picks up the first yellow of the match.

09:27 AM

23 mins GB - 0 - 0 Australia - GB HIT THE POST TWICE!

GB race down the other end and Daly, this time on the left, sends in a looping cross which arches towards the goal so much that it bobbles off the cross bar. Hemp is on hand to follow up and Micah reacts brilliantly to get down low and palm her shot onto her left post. GB have struck the woodwork three times in 20 minutes, surely they're going to score first?

09:24 AM

20 mins GB - 0 - 0 Australia

Australia are enjoying their first real spell of possession and send a ball into the box towards Kerr - and why wouldn't you? Australia's talismanic striker is two goals shy of becoming her country's all-time highest women's goal-scorer. She's currently sitting on 47.

09:19 AM

17 mins GB - 0 - 0 Australia

Let's check in with Tom Garry, our women's football reporter:

GB are getting closer! That was a terrific strike from range and deserved a goal. Just like for GB's opening match against Chile, there are eight Manchester City players in this starting XI and it is showing. Man City lost only one league game last season and there aren't many better teams in the world. Add in Kim Little, Leah Williamson and Rachel Daly and this is an extremely high-calibre XI, who know each other well.

09:18 AM

14 mins GB - 0 - 0 Australia - KEIRA WALSH HITS POST!

Out of nowhere the space opens up for Walsh, who fires a long-range shot from far out which clips the left post. This is a really positive start for GB.

09:17 AM

12 mins GB - 0 - 0 Australia - RACHEL DALY CHANCE!

A golden chance for GB to go ahead early! Hemp picks up the ball and goes on a darting run towards the area, before chipping the ball up perfectly for Daly, who is rushing in from the right. Daly takes one touch to cushion the ball but her shot from close range rises over the bar. The Houston Dash captain will be disappointed with that although she might have been marginally offside.

09:13 AM

Sam Kerr already proving a threat

The big surprise from Australia's starting line-up was the omission of experienced centre-back Clare Polkinghorne. GB haven't posed too much of a threat yet in front of goal, although it will be a bit disconcerting that Sam Kerr has already got her head on the ball twice in the box..

09:07 AM

5 mins GB - 0 - 0 Australia

Weir sends in GB's first free-kick off the game which Australia deal with easily, although the ball rolls out to Keira Walsh, whose spinning shot sits up nicely for keeper Teagan Micah.

09:06 AM

4 mins GB - 0 - 0 Australia

GB are moving the around early on with a decent tempo. We've already had a first glimpse of the outlet that Lauren Hemp down the left, out in acres of space on her own as a searching ball from Caroline Weir finds the Man City winger.

09:01 AM

The teams are out

GB have sung the anthem - including Scotland's Kim Little.

As expected, GB take the knee before kick-off, while Australia choose to stand in a line around the centre circle.

And we're underway.

08:55 AM

Can GB break new ground in the Olympics?

Let's hear from our women's football reporter, Tom Garry, as we approach kick-off:

This is the most pivotal match of GB's Tokyo 2020 campaign. Win it and they'll have two chances to claim a first ever medal and make history. Lose it and they'll head home early and their tournament will be deemed a failure. That's the fine line today, and the harsh reality of elite-level sport.

Get through to the semi-finals and, whatever happens from there, most people would celebrate their achievements. But there are no second chances today, it's win or bust.

08:52 AM

'Remember, you can always pass to me'

So GB v Australia means... Fran Kirby v Sam Kerr. The pair were stars for Chelsea's title-winning season and their formidable forward partnership tore defences apart in the WSL.

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08:47 AM


Australia looks set to continue with the three-across-the-back system that suited them in the group stages, with Arsenal’s Steph Catley deployed as a left wing-back, but they have the flexibility to switch to a back four if needed. Chelsea’s Sam Kerr captains the side as the central striker, with the Gunners’ Caitlin Foord up front alongside her.

It’s a Matildas team full of familiar faces to English WSL supporters, also including Tottenham defender Alanna Kennedy and Everton midfielder Hayley Raso. Midfielder Emily Van Egmond left West Ham this summer, but her team-mate Tameka Yallop is a new arrival for the Hammers.

Australia (3-4-3): Micah; Carpenter, Kennedy, Luik; Raso, Van Egmond, Yallop, Catley; Simon, Kerr (c), Foord

Subs: Williams (gk), Cooney-Cross, Polkinghorne, Logarzo, Fowler, Gielnik, Brock.

08:45 AM


GB make five changes as they revert back to a stronger XI after resting players for their 1-1 draw with Canada last time out. Steph Houghton returns to captain the side, while Kim Little and Ellen White also come straight back in to start. Keira Walsh replaces Sophie Ingle in the holding-midfield role and youngster Lauren Hemp is back to replace Georgia Stanway.

Fran Kirby is on the bench, having been in contention to start after recovering from a knock, but GB have seemingly deemed that she is still not quite 100% ready to go from the start yet.

GB (4-3-3): Roebuck; Bronze, Houghton (c), Williamson, Stokes; Little, Walsh, Weir; Daly, White, Hemp Subs: Ingle, Parris, Kirby, Telford (gk), Bright, Stanway, Scott.

Ellen White - ASANO IKKO/AFP
Ellen White - ASANO IKKO/AFP

08:42 AM


This is where things start to get serious. Having topped Group E after a solid start to Tokyo 2020 where they remain unbeaten, Team GB will be bidding to go one better than last time out, when they exited at the quarter-final stage at London 2012.

Reaching the semi-finals of the Olympic women's football tournament would be a significant achievement for GB given they played all but one warm-up match behind closed doors before the Games.

So far, Hege Riise's outfit has looked reasonably comfortable, although they left it late to earn a draw against Canada last Tuesday at Kashima Stadium - the same location for today's match.

Australia have only competed at three Olympics, but have never been past the quarter-final stage, so it's all to play for. Kick-off coming up at 10am.

08:28 AM

Quarter-final preview: 'I'm excited', says Hege Riise ahead of Australia clash

Hege Riise is relishing the chance of shaping the Team GB footballing culture as they eye the Olympic semi-finals.

Great Britain face Australia in their quarter-final in Kashima on Friday after topping Group E with seven points.

Riise was not initially due to manage the team in Japan but former England boss Phil Neville, who was pencilled in for the job, joined Inter Miami in January.

Team GB are unbeaten after beating Chile and Japan before drawing with Canada on Tuesday and Riise is loving the unexpected opportunity.

The Norwegian said: "It's been a privilege, we have been working on the culture, who are we, how do we want to be seen, how do we want to perform?

"All the players buy into that, they know what it will take for us to go all the way. I feel we have done a great job, now it's the knockout stage and it's about how brave we are.

"I feel we are in a good spot right now, the players feel comfortable, they feel we are doing the right things. I'm excited for the game."

Striker Fran Kirby could be handed her first start of the competition after recovering from a knock she suffered in training before the team flew to Japan.

"Everyone is healthy and available," said Riise. "She played 15 minutes in the last game just to get her into the rhythm of playing. We have discussed if she can go for 90 or less.

"That is a discussion going forward whether she can start or be a finisher. She is cleared for more minutes now.

"We will not change too much of who we are. We will continue to work on our relationships and the quality we have in the team. We have great quality and great depth if we can change the game if needed."

Riise also believes moving to Kashima after playing their first two group games in Sapporo, northern Japan, has aided her squad's mental health.

"We need to expect the unexpected and be comfortable doing that," she said. "We were happy to change the scenery, there's a bit more freedom here, a bigger hotel where we can walk to other places and sit outside for a few minutes to get some fresh air, which helps a lot.

"It helps from a mental perspective."


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