Heartbreak as Westfield Matildas fall to Japan in AFC Women's Asian Cup Final
The Westfield Matildas have fallen at the final hurdle after suffering a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to Japan in the AFC Women’s Asian Cup Final on Saturday (AEST).
A fabulous late strike from second-half substitute Kumi Yokoyama proved the difference as Japan secured back-to-back Asian Cup titles.
In a rematch of the 2014 Final, Alen Stajcic made six changes to Australia’s starting line-up from Tuesday’s Semi-Final win over Thailand.
The Matildas started brightly and had a golden chance to take the lead from the penalty spot inside 15 minutes but Elise Kellond-Knight failed to convert.
Australia continued to dominate proceedings as the game progressed and created a series of opportunities with Emily van Egmond striking the crossbar early in the second half.
But the Matildas’ profligacy in front of goal proved costly with Yokoyama punishing Australia with just over five minutes remaining.
Japan’s victory is their second-straight win over Australia in the Asian Cup Final, with the Nadeshiko also defeating the Matildas 1-0 in the 2014 decider.
STORY OF THE GAME
SHOT – Australia race out of the blocks and create an early chance with Steph Catley firing over the bar from the edge of the box.
CHANCE – A big chance for the Matildas with Emily van Egmond chesting just wide after a super ball from Tameka butt.
CHANCE – Two quick-fire chances for Australia with Sam Kerr’s powerful volley well saved by Ayaka Yamashita before Lisa De Vanna’s follow-up was easily gathered.
PENALTY MISS - Japan’s Saki Kumagai is penalised for handball in the box but Elise Kellond-Knight’s spot kick is kept out by Yamashita.
CHANCE – Japan work their way into the contest and go close to the opener with Rumi Utsugi firing just wide.
CHANCE – The Nadeshiko continue to press and Yui Hasegawa forces a super save from Lydia Williams after finding space in behind.
CHANCE – Sam Kerr is played in behind but a heavy touch forces her wide and she is denied by Yamashita.
CHANCE – Tameka Butt finds space on the edge of the area but her strike is wide of the target.
HALF-TIME – The two teams go into the break at 0-0 with Australia unable to make the most of their chances in the opening stanza. Japan looking dangerous on the counter.
CROSSBAR – Emily van Egmond is inches away from the opener with her long-range strike crashing into the crossbar with Yamashita beaten.
CHANCE – Van Egmond’s inviting free kick falls to Logarzo but the midfielder’s shot is wide.
GOAL - Kumi Yokoyama is played in behind the Australian defence and fires a superb effort past Lydia Williams.
CHANCE – A late, late chance for the Matildas with Kyah Simon played in behind but the striker is unable to gather.
FULL-TIME – Japan emerge 1-0 winners with Kumi Yokoyama’s late strike enough to seal the title.
1-0 JAPAN: Kumi Yokoyama, 84’
The substitute is played in behind the Australian defence and hits a fabulous strike into the top corner leaving Lydia Williams with no chance.