Top five Westfield Matildas moments of 2018: Australia beat Japan again at Tournament of Nations
The Westfield Matildas may have fallen just short at AFC Women's Asian Cup 2018 but the year was a profitable one for Alen Stajcic's side who will enter 2019 quietly hopeful of winning the biggest prize in women's football.
Australia lost that AFC Women's Asian Cup decider to Japan but, in reaching the last four, booked their spot at the FIFA Women's World Cup 2019.
And the form that the Westfield Matildas displayed during 2018 means they are every chance of having a major influence in France next year.
We're getting in the mood for a landmark year with a look back on the best of 2018, including AFC Asian Cup revenge as the Westfield Matildas beat their foes Japan.
Continental rivalry takes place in the United States
When Australia set off for their second Tournament of Nations campaign, they did so not only as the reigning champions, but as a team who had well and truly matured into a global force.
Australia went into the fixture on equal points and goal difference as the United States, meaning it was a case of winner takes all.
While Australia faced the Nadeshiko Japan, the USA faced a Brazilian outfit brimming with confidence following their 2-1 victory over Japan in the second match day.
The Westfield Matildas dominated the first half against their continental foes, but could not break the deadlock, with Ellie Carpenter and Emily Gielnik failing to convert their chances.
Less than two minutes into the second half, Australia would get their breakthrough - and in some style.
Alanna Kennedy stood over a dead ball on the edge of the box after Sam Kerr’s deadly counter-attacking run was cut short by Japan.
Kennedy sized up the angle, drew a deep breath and let fly from 20 yards.
Fortuitously, the wall twisted and broke as the ball caught Chika Hirao unsighted and out of position, giving the Westfield Matildas the lead.
That appeared to galvanise Australia, and particularly Sam Kerr, who had another two shots on goal.
But everyone knows you can only keep Kerr out for so long.
On 81 minutes, Kerr ran onto a through ball that both keeper and defender could not deal with.
The fiasco left Kerr with a defender to beat, which she duly did before slotting the ball home into an empty net from the edge of the box.
Unfortunately for Australia, a 4-1 victory for the USA over Brazil meant our women would fall just short of a second consecutive Tournament of Nations, despite a 2-0 win against Japan.
But it gave Australia a taste of revenge following the AFC Women’s Asian Cup and much-needed hunger heading into the FIFA Women’s World Cup France 2019™.