It was ugly at times, it was messy at times, it often made no sense.
But by the time the final whistle was blown, Australia and Great Britain had played out an all-time classic.
The 4-3 win for the Matildas after extra-time looks impressive enough on paper, but it’s hard to describe just how gutsy a performance it was, in a game that developed from a trudge to a thriller over 120 minutes.
It was the best Matildas win in years and it means they are in the semi-finals of the Olympics for the first time. They’re one win away from a medal and two from gold.
And this was the victory Tony Gustavsson’s side needed to prove they can beat the best, two years out from a home World Cup.
Friendly wins against the US or Brazil are one thing, but beating Britain in a high-stakes slug-fest is big time.
It was a bizarro game, in which almost every goal came against the run of play.
Initially it looked like the Matildas were completely outmatched by the favoured Brits, who pegged them back against their own goal in the opening stages and created a number of excellent chances which they just couldn’t put away.
Aussie keeper Teagan Micah and the woodwork both had claims for player-of-the-match for bailing the Matildas out over and over.
But then Australia scored.
From a Steph Catley corner, Alanna Kennedy launched herself like a Jeff Bezos vanity project into the stratosphere and banged a header into the corner.
One-nil to Australia and suddenly England were hanging on until half-time, with the Matildas buzzing.
After the break, too, Australia continued to surge forward. It appeared the tide had turned.
And then Great Britain scored.
It was a goal that echoed the Australians’, with Ellen White rising high to a perfect cross and directing her header so precisely that Micah could only flap at it.
In perhaps the only goal with the run of play, White put the Brits in front after the Matildas defence got sloppy and failed to clear a ball, and Micah made her only mistake of the match in letting a firm, low shot through her hands.
At this point, Britain were cruising to victory.
The BBC even thought so, tweeting: “Team GB are on the brink of an Olympic football semi-final. They lead Australia 2-1 as the clock ticks towards 90 minutes …”
They really weren’t.
Sam Kerr, largely absent for 89 minutes, scored a scorcher to level things up at 2-2.
Lurking in the area, she brought down a lofted ball and, still unbalanced, cocked her right foot.
In a display of immense sagacity, she realised she had time to pause, put her foot down to catch her balance, then draw it back again to drill a low shot through legs and into the back of the net.
It was a masterful goal from the poacher extraordinaire, especially considering the state of the game.
It meant extra time, and again it was Great Britain who had all the upper hand, pressing Australia back and threatening their goal.
When Team GB won a dubious penalty, it seemed they would soon be on their way to the semis.
Instead, Micah heroed up again, saving the admittedly weak effort from Caroline Weir.
Seconds later, 18-year-old Mary Fowler, fresh off the bench, looped a deflected shot into the top corner to send the Aussies into ecstasy.
For a match that had started slowly, it was now heaving and pulsing and still entirely unpredictable.
Immediately after half-time in extra time, Kerr had scored again, smashing a ferocious header past the British keeper.
It was 4-2 to the Matildas. It was hard to keep track. Surely it was all over?
But of course Team GB refused to die, netting again through the irrepressible White with five minutes of extra time remaining.
But that was it, there would be no more manic twists.
The Matildas held on for one of their greatest victories. Coach Tony Gustavsson suddenly looks like he has everything under control.
“Oh,” tweeted the BBC.
Sam Kerr has further cemented her status as some kind of god-like creature who came here from another universe to show us how easy it is to play football.
“What a game,” she told Channel Seven afterwards.
“This team’s special. We showed so much heart, so much team spirit.”
They certainly did, but it’s only going to get harder from here.
Sweden, the team who beat them 4-2 in the group stage, loom in Monday night’s semi-final.
Expect it to break viewing records in Australia, because these Matildas are box office.