Matildas beat Brazil in Newcastle | photos

Superstar striker Sam Kerr led the Matildas to a thrilling 3-2 win over Brazil in front of a record crowd at McDonald Jones Stadium on Tuesday night.

Australia conceded a goal in the first minute after five-time world player of the year Marta broke clear down the left and fired in a low cross for Fabiana to slot home.

But Kerr headed home an Emily van Egmond free kick in the 39th minute then set up the second with a sublime through-ball for Katrina Gorry just after half-time.

Gorry skewed her shot horribly, but Caitlin Foord followed up to shoot into an empty net.

Kerr doubled the lead in the 63rd minute after Chloe Logarzo played a clever one-two with van Egmond on the left touch line then floated in a cross. Kerr met it first time, ramming home a volley from five metres out then performing her trademark backflip celebration.

The Matildas celebrate a Sam Kerr goal against Brazil in Newcastle on Tuesday night. Picture: AAP

The Matildas celebrate a Sam Kerr goal against Brazil in Newcastle on Tuesday night. Picture: AAP

She has scored seven goals in her past four games for Australia, a hat-trick against Japan then four in three matches against Brazil.

Marta earned a dubious penalty with five minutes to go after soft contact from Ellie Carpenter on the edge of the box. The midfielder struck her spot kick low past Lydia Williams to set up a tense finish, but the home side held on.

The crowd of 16,829 was announced as a record for Matildas home games. Australia drew bigger crowds at the 2000 Olympics, but those were double-headers. 

The Matildas beat Brazil 2-1 in front of 15,089 fans at Penrith and also thrashed the South Americans 6-1 at the recent Tournament of Nations in the US. 

Coach Alen Stajcic said the Penrith and Newcastle crowds were “ground-breaking” for the sport. 

“I think we’ll be looking back in 10 years’ time and saying that this was the week that football really turned in Australia,” he said.

“To come out on a Tuesday night and have such a big crowd is a testament to how engaging the girls have been.

“When you play like that on the field, I guess the crowds are the reward for all that hard work.”

The Matildas have won seven of their past eight matches stretching back to the Algarve Cup in Portugal in March. Their only loss in that period was on penalties after a 1-1 draw with Denmark.

Stajcic praised his side for their composure after conceding an early goal on Tuesday night, as they did against Japan and Brazil at the Tournament of Nations last month.

“I thought the second half we completely dominated the game and started picking them apart and created probably more chances than the two we scored,” he said.

“I think it’s good resilience and maturity from the group, even when the game got a bit rough and tumble.”

He said Kerr had demonstrated why she was regarded as one of the best players in the world.

“She’s just flying. The first goal, the header, was just phenomenal, and she probably could have had a hatty tonight. 

“She’s so dangerous. She’d be such a hard person to mark. Her movement on and off the ball is amazing.

“She’s probably the best reader of dangerous spaces in women’s football at the moment. 

“To have someone like that in our team is a big boost to everyone.”

He also praised former Newcastle Jet van Egmond, who dominated the midfield and looks a better player for her time in the German Women’s Bundesliga.

“She’s definitely developed that battle hardness that was maybe a weakness in her game before.

“We’ve always known she was a good technical player, but she’s really added that extra element to her game, and that’s why she’s such an asset to our team now.” 

The late penalty could have cost Australia the No.4 ranking in the world under FIFA’s complicated points system.

“Bit tough, but that’s what happens,” Stajcic said. 

Logarzo put in a strong shift over 75 minutes on the left wing and could have scored but fired straight at the keeper on the hour mark.