Emily van Egmond scores hat trick as Australia thrash Thailand in Olympic qualifying
Matildas stalwart Emily van Egmond scored a maiden international hat trick as Australia beat Thailand 6-0 to secure a berth in the final stage of Olympic qualification.
Last Friday's assist queen turned goalscorer at Campbelltown Sports Stadium on Monday night as Australia cruised in their group qualifier for Tokyo 2020.
With Chelsea superstar Sam Kerr again limited to a bench cameo, Van Egmond broke the deadlock with a quickfire double just before half time before adding a third in the 70th minute.
The victory sets up a blockbuster clash with unbeaten China at Parramatta on Thursday night, with the winner topping group B.
Although already out of contention for a top-two finish, the Chaba Kaew frustrated Australia for almost the entire first half. Thailand's tactics were clear from the outset: park the bus and -- if possible -- hit the Matildas on the counter-attack. That strategy almost bore fruit two years ago when they led Australia heading into added time of their Asian Cup semifinal before losing in a shootout.
Initially unfazed, the Matildas methodically worked the ball forward looking to pick Thailand apart but struggled to find their usual potency. Defender Ellie Carpenter ran rampant down the right, teeing up last start hat-trick hero Caitlin Foord and Van Egmond for half chances.
Kyah Simon, who made an emotional return in green and gold for the first time since October 2018 in Friday's 7-0 win over Taiwan, came closest just on the half-hour mark. But she was denied as a diving Natthakarn Chinwong slammed into the post, with the defender subbed soon after. Her sacrifice proved in vain, as Australia's patience was rewarded when Carpenter found Van Egmond lurking at the back post for a tap-in.
With the deadlock broken, Van Egmond and Carpenter combined again to double their advantage before the break.
After a limp start to the second half, head coach Ante Milicic turned to Kerr and Hayley Raso to provide a spark. The double change worked a treat as Simon scored and Van Egmond followed suit.
Seconds later, Milicic's substitutes linked up to add a fifth as Raso tucked a low Kerr cross into the top right corner.
Simon completed her double to round out the rout as Australia soared back to the top of group B.