Ballarat soccer export Kyra Cooney-Cross played a helping hand in her Olympics debut as Australia took a massive step towards advancing from the "group of death".
The former Ballarat Lady Red Devils player was a late substitute in the Matildas' 2-1 win against New Zealand on Wednesday night.
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The 19-year-old looked at ease in the centre of midfield, coming on in the 75th minute with the Australians enjoying a 2-0 lead.
A Tameka Yallop effort in the 20th minute gave the Matildas the ascendancy, before a 33rd-minute Sam Kerr header marked a near-perfect first half.
Missed chances soured a similarly dominant second half, with the Matildas nearly left to rue their inaccuracy.
A New Zealand goal a minute into injury time made for a nervous end, but Australia held on to claim an opening win at the Olympics for the first time and continue the Matildas' 27-year unbeaten run against the Kiwis.
The win was Cooney-Cross' first "competitive" senior international cap.
The playmaker was named in the Matildas' squad in June and made her senior debut off the bench in a 3-2 friendly loss to Denmark.
She started in the following two friendlies against Sweden and Japan.
The Matildas next play Sweden on Saturday evening, with their opponents fresh off a boil-over 3-0 win against the United States. Sweden dominated throughout to hand the reining World Cup winners their first loss in two-and-a-half years.
A win against Sweden would see the Matildas top Group G.
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