Japan stun Matildas to retain AFC Women’s Asian Cup title in Jordan

Kelvin Leong Kelvin Leong

Japan retained the AFC Women’s Asian Cup title with a shock 1-0 win over Australia in the final of the 2018 edition in Jordan.

The Matildas have every right to feel disappointed after dominating the 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup final only to lose to a late winner from Kumi Yokoyama.

Alen Stajcic’s team came out all guns blazing and dominated proceedings with Samantha Kerr and Tameka Butt testing Japanese goalkeeper Ayaka Tamashita early on.

Australia’s pressure finally paid off in the 14th minute when Saki Kumagai handled the ball in the box to give away a penalty.

Elise Kellond-Knight stepped up but fired her spot kick straight at Tamashita who made a comfortable save.

Japan finally started to show their attacking prowess and tested Lydia Williams in goal on a few occasions.

With neither team able to break the deadlock in the opening period, the Matildas continued piling on the pressure in the second half.

The turning point came in the 72nd minute when Yokoyama replaced Yuika Sugasawa and the substitute provided the winner with six minutes left on the clock.

Having picked up the ball down the left, Yokoyama dribbled her way past two Australian defenders before rifling an unstoppable shot into the back of the net.

Australia tried in vain for the remaining time to find an equaliser but their efforts came to naught and the Japanese bench ran onto the field at full time to celebrate a defensive masterclass and their second consecutive Asian Cup title.

In the earlier game, China beat Thailand 3-1 to claim third place. Thailand, China, Japan, Australia and Korea Republic are the Asian representatives for next year’s FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.