Australia 3 vs. 2 Japan
8.00 push back
There is a slightly more relaxed feel in the stadium for this late pushback. Somebody hasn’t told the Japanese, though, as they fire a high ball from the top the Australian ‘D’, early on. The game settles down and the players are quietly probing each other. The Australians are playing with three midfielders, but one as a deeper player and two pushing high to support the attack. In the seventh minute of the still young game, an Australian player sends a stinger Ito the Japanese keeper’s (Megumi Kageyama) left leg guard. They are attacking more often now, starting to get behind the Japanese back line, sending another shot just past the post. They are starting to show why they are ranked fifth, seven places above Japan.
The Japanese were looking a bit flat, when defending an Australian hit out, with two banks of three representing the midfield and attack in straight lines, but their central forward Yuri Nagai cuts out a dodgy pass and fizzles a shot just wide of the Aussie goal.
In the twelfth minute the Australians win the first short corner of the game. The first shot is saved, the women in gold and green then pounce on the rebound, bring it back and send a shot to the Kageyama’s left pad be turned over the bar. 0 – 0 at the first break. The Japanese have held their own, with the score being a fair reflection of the match so far.
First minute of the second quarter, Aussie Stephanie Kershaw drives into the area, draws a stick foul and wins a short corner. It’s played to the right hand post from the top of the D, deflected in by Rosie Malone; 1 – 0.
Australia is looking quick in attack Grace Stewart sends Brooke Pearis a pass right through the middle. The Japanese manage to put her off her shot, with a defender and the keeper denying her the required amount of space. The Australians are looking slightly more fluid in attack than their opponents now, finding attacking spaces in wide areas. In the seventh minute of the quarter they find success, with the ball being drilled in from the right at a 45 degree angle, deflected off of the keepers pads and rebounding nicely to number 4, Emily Hurtz; 2 – 0.
After this the Japanese look to press the Aussies in order to get a goal back, but their intensity doesn’t quite last until the end of the half. At the break, it’s two goals to zero for the Australians.
The Japanese push back the second half, as the sun is setting over the north-west corner of the stadium. Three minutes into the second half Motomi Kawamura gets into a foot race with the defender marking her, winning the ball, spinning for a shot, which leads to a short corner. The injector plays out to the first castle and the shot is fired just wide of the open stick post. Shortly after this, the Aussies get a short corner of their own. The ball is sent to the top of the ‘D’ and dragged into the top right hand corner, by Jodie Kenny. 3 – 0 to Australia. Japan are not happy with this. The number 22, Kawamura, picks the ball up in her third quarter and drives forward. She beats a player and then another. She keeps going and finds herself in the Australian circle. The goalkeeper, Rachael Lynch, has to commit to her forward run and Kawamura slots a reverse hit into the bottom right corner.
The Japanese aren’t stopping there Minami Shimizu drives the ball forward and squares left. Yuri Nagai pics up the ball on the left wing and plays the ball into the circle. There’s a scramble where Japan get two shots off, forcing the Lynch into a double save. With two minutes of the quarter remaining, the Australians are basically camped within their own 23 metre area, due to the increased possession from Japan.
Second minute of the fourth quarter, Australia get a short corner, which the Japanese refer, with the debate being whether or not the ball was played over the back line. Video Umpire upholds the original decision, meaning that he Japanese lose their chance to use it again. Jodie Kenny whacks the ball at the keeper, and the resulting rebound flashes across the goal, but goes wide.
Fourth minute, Japan get a short corner. The shot goes to the keepers right and out for a long corner. This leads to another one. The Japanese are really looking to pile on the pressure. Another save from the keeper. Australia get a long corner, after a through pass, bobbles through the Japanese keeper’s legs, but nothing came from it. An attack down Japan’s left wing and a good pass across the top of the ‘D’, allowed Shimizu to find herself in plenty of space. Rachael Lynch comes out fast and smoothers it well. They then get another chance shortly afterwards, smacking the ball in the side netting. Japan can’t seem to convert their chances.
Japan are not giving up though and with four and a half minutes remaining win another short, but play it straight at the post player. They have had the better of the chances in this quarter, but they keep going begging. Japan has a never say die attitude and win yet another short corner with 93 seconds remaining. It is drilled directly into a planked Australian keeper. The lack of variation might be an issue further down the line. The attitude finally pays off, though, with an attack down the left wing, the ball is fizzed across the Aussie area, for Akiko Kato to finish it off. Full time score Australia 3 – 2 Japan. The Japanese might feel that they could have won this based upon the second half performance.