A strong second half fightback wasn’t enough for Australia, as they lost 1-0 to world champions Japan in the Asian Cup women’s football final in Vietnam.
Defending champions Australia created most of the chances in the second 45 minutes, but couldn’t find the touch that brought them nine goals in their four previous games.
Japan had lost each of their four previous Asian Cup finals.
Azusa Iwashimizu broke that drought by scoring the only goal in the 28th minute from a well executed corner variation.
She headed in at the back post from close range, as Australia failed to deal with a teasing cross from Rumi Utsugi.
Australia failed to capitalise on three early chances before Japan had a meaningful attempt.
Recalled Sam Kerr blasted over the crossbar from seven metres after just 30 seconds and had a half chance a few minutes later following a misdirected backpass.
Michelle Heyman headed straight at the goalkeeper following a flowing multi-pass move.
Iwashimuzu’s goal came during a spell of sustained pressure from Japan, during which the Matildas struggled to get the ball out of their own half.
Megumi Takasae had two attempts saved by Matildas goalkeeper Lydia Williams, as Japan dominated the middle of the half, with Australia guilty of turning possession over too easily and conceding a number of free kicks.
The Matildas rallied in the last few minutes before halftime and Lisa De Vanna had a half chance in the first few moments of the second half.
Heyman fired in a strong 20-metre shot and twice just failed to make contact a few meters out.
Yuri Kawamura blazed over from a corner and Yuika Sugasawa crashed a shot against the underside of the bar, before Australia turned up the pressure in the final quarter.
Kerr had a goal rubbed out for offside, and De Vanna and Kerr also went close but a goal eluded the Matildas.