Sport Football Matildas beat Japan but lose trophy in Tournament of Nations contest

Matildas beat Japan but lose trophy in Tournament of Nations contest

Kumi Yokoyama passes between defenders Elise Kellond-Knight and Claire Polkinghorne at Toyota Park in Illinois in the earlier match. Photo: Getty
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They don’t have a trophy to show for it but the Matildas believe their Tournament of Nations campaign is more proof they have what it takes to win the one that matters – next year’s Women’s World Cup.

Australia gained some sweet revenge on their Asian Cup conquerors Japan with a 2-0 win on Friday morning (AEST) to finish the round-robin format event undefeated.

But the 4-1 victory by the United States over Brazil in the match that followed meant the Matildas were unable to retain their trophy from last year, with the Americans winning it on goal difference.

Goalkeeper Lydia Williams is looking on the bright side – Australia finished the tournament unbeaten and with the best defensive record of all three teams, conceding just two goals.

“Even though they won the trophy, we have to look at it that way,” Williams told AAP.

“There’s definitely a lot of positives we can take away from this tournament.

“There’s a few things that we need to get better at as a group and individually and that will be our main focus.

“We want to go into 2019 flying and the World Cup ready to go.”

Williams said the Matildas already viewed themselves as genuine contenders for the forthcoming World Cup in France next June.

Their performances in the Tournament of Nations have cemented that feeling.

Australia beat Brazil 3-1 in their opening match and drew 1-1 with the world No.1-ranked Americans on Monday (AEST) after conceding a late goal from a corner kick.

Then they recovered from a sluggish start against Japan to overwhelm the team that edged them in April’s Asian Cup final.

Defender Alanna Kennedy’s free kick goal in the 47th minute and a late strike from Samantha Kerr proved the difference in Bridgeview, Illinois.

Kennedy’s effort went straight through the Japanese wall and beat goalkeeper Chika Hirao at her near post.

Shortly afterwards Kerr and Hayley Raso both went close to making it 2-0 with shots on goal within three minutes of each other – the former’s header was saved while the latter’s effort was deflected wide.

Kerr, who was playing at the venue her NWSL club Chicago Red Stars call home, eventually doubled the advantage in the 81st minute.

Hirao rushed out of her box in an attempt to cut off a through ball but misjudged it badly.

Kerr then turned on the pace to round a defender before rolling the ball into an empty net.