Without a host of stars, the Matildas were able to fight off a rampaging Spain for a half before the result got ugly fast.
Matildas disciplined defence and some brave keeping from Tegan Micah managed to hold out the Spanish onslaught for 44 minutes before a brilliant goal from the hosts signalled the start of a frenzy.
The Australians, missing their star players, made it clear their focus was on minimising the damage the World No.7 side, which included Ballon d’Or winner Alexia Putellas, could inflict lining up with a five-strong wall of defenders behind their four midfielders.
It worked – thanks to Micah making some exceptional saves, for 44 minutes – then the Matildas brick wall defence collapsed – giving Spain free rein at the net, with the match finishing 7-0.
Australia managed just four shots to Spain’s 23 in the 90 minute match.
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The first goal, which came off the left boot of Aitana Bonmati, was simply delightful – soaring into the top of the net well out of reach of a diving Micah.
Matildas regained their composure for the remaining few minutes of the half, with several extra minutes added to make up for the time lost while Micah was treated for an ankle injury on field.
Charlotte Grant, called in to the squad to replace injured right-back Ellie Carpenter, stepped up to the occasion and was one of the Matilda’s shining lights in the back line.
Grant, 20, playing just her sixth game in the green and gold, said matching Spain’s tempo was a challenge.
“It was a really difficult match tonight, we knew coming into this match that Spain is one of the best teams in the world and that makes for a high paced game and very technical,” Grant said after the match.
“It was a great experience for us and one we are going to learn a lot from.”
Carpenter wasn’t the only big name missing from the squad with Sam Kerr, Steph Catley, Kyah Simon and Caitlin Foord rested for the friendly.
Clare Polkinghorne, the most experienced on the team with 143 caps, said they always knew it would be a challenge coming here.
“The two teams are at much different points in time with Spain in its final preparations for the Euros and we are a year out from the World Cup,” Polkinghorne said.
Coach Tony Gustavsson made just two changes at the break swapping Mackenzie Arnold for the injured Micah and replacing striker Emily Gielnik with rising star Princess Ibini-Isei.
But with the focus firmly stuck on defence and Matildas rarely having control of the ball she had little chance to show her creative flair.
Matildas were on the back foot from the restart with Spain taking just two minutes to find the net for the second time.
Spain scored twice more in the following 10 minutes, with two impressive headers.
Despite the growing scoreline, the Matildas stuck to their original game plan but it didn’t build on the two goal scoring opportunities they had in the first half.
Down 4-0, Gustavsson made several substitutions including bringing debutant Taylor Ray into the midfield.
Australia turned the ball over in the midfield and Spain didn’t squander the opportunity, wasting no time to find Lucia Garcia who netted her second for the night.
Spain didn’t let up despite the clock winding down, with Irene Guerrero, first scoring an uncontested header and then a stunning goal from outside the 18-yard box one minute later – putting Spain ahead 7-0.
Matildas will next play Portugal on Wednesday at 6am (AEST).
Originally published as Matildas lose 7-0 to Spain in thumping without a host of stars