Digimagaz.com – In a dramatic start to the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023, Australia secured a hard-fought 1-0 win against Ireland in Sydney on Thursday, despite the absence of star player Sam Kerr, who withdrew due to injury.

The match began with Australia visibly struggling to find their rhythm without Kerr, the country’s all-time leading scorer and iconic captain. The 75,784-strong crowd at Stadium Australia was taken by surprise when news broke an hour before kick-off that Kerr would miss the game and also the upcoming match against Nigeria in Group B, owing to a calf injury sustained during a practice session on Wednesday.

Mary Fowler, with Irish heritage, replaced Kerr in the attacking lineup for Australia. Although the Manchester City forward is a talented prospect, the absence of Kerr’s presence was evident, and the team seemed to lack ideas and cutting edge in their attack.

The first half saw Australia facing difficulties in breaking down Ireland’s defenses, and the home team struggled to create clear scoring opportunities. However, everything changed in the 52nd minute when a penalty was awarded to Australia after Marissa Sheva brought down Hayley Raso in the penalty area.

Steph Catley took the responsibility and confidently converted the penalty, sending Ireland’s goalkeeper, Courtney Brosnan, the wrong way with a composed left-footed finish. This crucial goal unleashed a wave of joy among the fans in Stadium Australia, and the majority of the crowd breathed a sigh of relief after witnessing a somewhat lackluster performance from their team.

Ireland, participating in their first-ever Women’s World Cup, had previously defeated Australia 3-2 in a friendly match in Dublin back in 2021. Despite putting up a spirited effort and pushing hard for an equalizer in the closing stages of the match, the Irish team couldn’t find the back of the net.

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The absence of Sam Kerr remains a concern for Australia as they look ahead to their last Group B game against Canada on July 31 in Melbourne. The medical staff will carefully assess Kerr’s recovery to determine if she can make a comeback for that crucial fixture.

As the tournament progresses, the spotlight will be on Australia’s ability to adapt and perform without their star striker, while Ireland will aim to bounce back from this narrow defeat and make an impact in their upcoming matches.

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