TIANJIN, China (AFP) - Brazil ended Asian interest in the World Cup quarter-finals on Sunday but needed a dash of magic to subdue battling Australia 3-2.
The Samba Girls were 2-0 up in 23 minutes but were pegged back by Lisa de Vanna and Lauren Colthorpe before Cristiane settled the tie with a classy strike on 76 minutes.
Brazil will face two-time champions the US on Thursday in only their second ever World Cup semi-final while Australia, who follow China and North Korea out in the first knock-out stage, at least leave with their pride intact.
The Matildas, ranked 15th to Brazil's seventh, were always going to be up against it and an uphill task looked mountainous in the fourth minute when Formiga curled a delicious shot in off the bar.
Marta, the 2006 World Player of the Year, should have doubled the lead a minute later but saw her shot smothered by Australian 'keeper Melissa Barbieri when put through one-on-one.
With Australia struggling to settle, things went from bad to worse for the Matildas when inspirational captain Cheryl Salisbury went off clutching her right ankle.
Her replacement Kate McShea had the harshest of introductions when she was adjudged to have dragged down Renata Costa in the box, although replays showed otherwise.
Marta coolly side-footed the penalty low and to Barbieri's right for her fifth goal of the tournament, making her joint top-scorer with Norway's Ragnhild Gulbrandsen and Brazil's all-time leader in the competition.
But just as Brazil thought they would coast into the semis, a defensive slip kept the tie alive and cost them their first goal of the tournament.
Lightning Aussie forward de Vanna, vindicating the decision to start her for the first time, intercepted a loose back pass and rounded goalkeeper Andreia for her fourth World Cup goal on 36 minutes.
With Brazil content to sit back after the restart, Australia piled on the pressure and they stunned the South Americans on 68 minutes as midfielder Colthorpe headed a hopeful ball past the stranded Andreia.
But as extra-time beckoned, Brazil's vaunted forwards put together a devastating combination rounded off by Cristiane, whose swivel and curled shot into the top right corner was a contender for goal of the tournament.
Australia fought to the end and Dianne Alagich could have snatched it with an overhit volley in the dying seconds as Daniela almost bagged Brazil's fourth at the other end.
|Coach: Jorge Barcellos|
for Formiga 90+2'
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