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Sam Kerr embraces Kristie Mewis after first World Cup appearance

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Australia's Sam Kerr hugs her girlfriend, Kristie Mewis of the USWNT, after the Matildas' World Cup Round of 16 win. (Maddie Meyer/FIFA via Getty Images)

Sam Kerr made her return to the pitch Monday in Australia’s 2-0 win over Denmark.

After missing the entirety of the group stage with a calf injury, Kerr came on as a substitute in the 80th minute of the the World Cup host’s Round of 16 match to a roaring crowd in Sydney.

The Matildas were already up 2-0 thanks to Caitlin Foord and Hayley Raso, so Kerr didn’t have to face much pressure in her first minutes of the 2023 tournament.

“We just ran our arse off and gave it everything,” Foord told Optus Sport postgame. “We knew if we defended well there were going to come chances and we were going to score and that’s what we did tonight.”

Still, even with a two-goal lead in hand, Kerr made an impact in her 10 minutes. She even nearly had a scoring chance in the 87th minute, looking healthy despite not warming up before the match. And after the game, she met up with girlfriend Kristie Mewis in the stands. While Mewis was eliminated from the World Cup with the U.S. women’s national team’s shootout loss Sunday, she was on hand to celebrate Kerr’s success.

“The players once again managed to play the game in front of us,” Australia head coach Tony Gustavsson told Optus Sport. “Right in that moment, the composure, we were under a lot of pressure, that first half. We didn’t get rattled. The team is very mature and playing tournament football and just finding a way to win.”