Women's World Cup: Matildas' Milicic proud of Kerr despite big miss

Sam Kerr's shoot-out miss sent Australia on their way to Women's World Cup defeat, but Ante Milicic remains proud.

Sam Kerr of Australia runs with the ball during the Women's World Cup match against Norway.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Ante Milicic expressed his pride of Australia star Sam Kerr after their Women's World Cup last-16 shoot-out defeat to Norway, insisting "only big players can miss penalties".

Kerr had been the Matildas' star performer in France, but she blazed over the crossbar with the team's first penalty after battling to a 1-1 draw after extra time on Saturday.

Contrastingly, the Norway takers kept their composure to seal a 4-1 win en route to the quarter-finals, yet Milicic had no criticism of Kerr.

"I'm extremely proud of Sam," he told a news conference. "As an Australian coach, to be able to work with her has been an excellent experience for me.

"All I'll say is that only big players can miss penalties because small ones don't take them."

Milicic was less enthused by the performance of the officials, who overturned an Australia penalty call with a VAR review, struck off a Kerr goal for offside and then sent off Alanna Kennedy in extra-time.

"I don't know if there's any words to describe how I'm feeling or, more importantly, how the girls are feeling," he said.

"In the first 10, 15 minutes, we started really well and had clear-cut chances to take the lead.

"Unfortunately, we can talk about a lot: the decisions, the referee, coming back, the spirit of the girls, the sending off, the shoot-out. There's a lot to comment on.

"But in the end, I'm extremely disappointed, we're eliminated, we go home."

Norway must regroup ahead of a quarter-final meeting with either England or Cameroon, but coach Martin Sjogren was confident the elation of victory will aid the process.

"It gives us an extreme confidence boost to move on, but at the same time, it takes a bit of our energy," he said. "The most important now is to recover physically but also mentally.

"Having won, I think we will recover mentally quite quickly. I think we will have a team that want to play again when we next go out on the field."

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