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Women’s World Cup: Falcons group foes Australia edge France, suffer injury blow

AUSTRALIA ramped up their preparations for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup today with a 1-0 friendly victory over France in Melbourne.

The Matildas are in Group B for the World Cup with Nigeria’s Super Falcons, Olympic champions Canada and newcomers Republic of Ireland.

The tournament, which Australia will co-host with neighbours New Zealand, will be held from July 20 to August 20, with 32 teams participating.

Mary Fowler scored the only goal in today’s friendly against the 2019 hosts before over 50,000 fans at the Marvel Stadium in Melbourne.

It was Australia’s only warm-up game before the World Cup, and they looked sharp and ready with fluid counter-attacking, defensive solidity and composure, sending a strong signal to the Super Falcons and their other group opponents.

Australia rode their luck to earn the win though, as France were denied a penalty (which would have been given if VAR was in operation) minutes before Manchester City forward Fowler struck the only goal of the game midway into the second half.

The 20-year-old controlled a pass from the right flank with one touch and fired past France goalkeeper Pauline Peyraud-Magnin in a composed finish.

The Matildas’ fine victory was however marred by an injury concern for Tameka Yallop, who twisted her leg awkwardly in a challenge.

The Norway-based midfielder tried to jog off the pain, but was eventually withdrawn, and it is doubtful if she will be fit in time for the group stages of the World Cup.

Australia open their campaign on June 20 against Republic of Ireland in Sydney before battling Nigeria seven days later in Brisbane.

The co-hosts round off their group fixtures against Canada on July 31 in Melbourne.

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