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Australia coach hails Kerr for swinging momentum against France

Australia’s coach hailed Sam Kerr for giving the team momentum at a crucial time in their Women’s World Cup quarter-final win over France on Saturday, with the star Chelsea striker admitting it was tough being a super-sub.

Kerr played for 65 minutes in Brisbane, thrown into the action for her longest stint since picking up a calf injury before the opening game of the tournament.

Her entrance was greeted by roars from the crowd and she lifted her side as they held France goalless through 120 minutes before a breathless penalty shootout that the co-hosts won 7-6.

Kerr duly scored one of the crucial spot kicks.

“The biggest decision to be honest was when to bring Sam in. It was a massive decision even before the game to leave her on the bench,” said Tony Gustavsson of Australia’s all-time leading goalscorer. 

“And then it was the timing. I was informed that she had limited minutes today. 

“And then we needed to put extra time into consideration. That was a massive decision to get right. When Sam came in we really had them on the hook. We really got the momentum, and from the fans as well.”

Kerr said she never expected to start against France, but suggested she would be ready to play a full game in the semi-finals.

“When I hurt my calf the plan was always to be ready for semi-final time so I could have (started) but who knows what would have happened,” she said.

“I played 65 minutes and feel better for it and I’ll have more training under my belt and feel ready to go now.”

Starting from the bench is not something Kerr is used to, for either Australia or Chelsea, and it has given her a new appreciation for the job substitutes do.

“I tried to bring energy when I came on, I tried to lift the girls and I kind of think the momentum swung a bit in our favour and that’s what you have to do as a sub, to come on and just settle in and do your job,” said Australia’s captain.

“But it’s not easy, I don’t envy people who are super-subs because it’s an amazing job they do. I just tried my best.”

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