SYDNEY - Australia coach Tony Gustavsson has warned against the Matildas getting carried away with their form after they beat Spain 3-2 in the Cup of Nations to extend their winning streak to six matches.
More than 17,000 fans watched on at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday as goals from Cortnee Vine, Clare Polkinghorne and Caitlin Foord gave Australia a 3-0 halftime lead before Spain hit back with late strikes from Olga Carmona and Alba Redondo.
Facing the seventh-ranked side in the world was the toughest match in a tournament that was expressly set up to prepare the Matildas for the group stage when they co-host the Women's World Cup in July and August.
Gustavsson, though, urged caution.
"We need to be humble and not get carried away," he told reporters. "I've said from day one, we're going to be a team that scores more than the opponents. Against a team like Spain, it's freaking difficult to keep them away from the goal zone because they are so good on the ball. What I'm most proud of today is the team effort, it was a team out there tonight."
Spain thrashed a weakened Australia 7-0 in Huelva last year and Gustavsson said the tough learning process he deliberately put his squad through in the first couple of years of his tenure was starting to reap dividends.
"The confidence is going to rise from this," he added. "But we're one loss away from changing this perspective and I just need to stick to what I believe in and what we believe in as a team."
Gustavsson took part of the blame for the late goals Australia conceded after his substitutions disrupted the high press the Matildas had used to defuse the Spanish threat throughout the game.
"I think it's an important reminder that we need to play right through to the end," he said. "But we can't let that last goal cloud the performance. They are starting to really nail down the game-management part of the game now."
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Shri Navaratnam)