USA win 2018 Tournament of Nations
Australia just misses out to the USA in #Ton201803 August 2018 | FT Editor
Australia went through the Tournament of Nations undefeated, but were pipped at the post at defending last year's title by the United States who earned the same number of points but scored more goals and had a better goal difference of +5 compared with +4.
On the final day of the four-nation tournament, Australia defeated Japan 2-0 in the early game, with goals to Alanna Kennedy and Sam Kerr in the 47th and 53rd minutes respectively.
In the final match of the tournament, the USA defeated Brazil 4-1 after an own goal to Tierna Davidson put Brazil in front in the 16th minute. But it was all USA after that, with goals to Rose Lavelle (33'), Julie Ertz (53'), Tobin Heath (61') and the tournament's leading goalscorer, Alex Morgan (77').
In the Matildas match, the first half was largely frustrating for both sides and not a lot of excitement for the crowd with only one notable effort on target - from Kumi Yokoyama's free kick a few minutes before half-time which was comfortably dealt with by Lydia Williams. Australia looked a little out of sorts until Alen Stajcic made two substitutions in the 29th minute bring on Larissa Crummer and Emily Gielnik for Lisa De Vanna and Clare Polkinghorne.
Alanna Kennedy's free kick goal came a few minutes into the second half after Kerr was brought down just near the box. Kennedy - somewhat mysteriously as she is not known to have Albanian ethnicity - celebrated her goal with the Albanian eagle hand signal for which two Swiss players of Albanian heritage were fined by FIFA at the World Cup.
Japan tried hard, but didn't really look like scoring against a resolute Australian defence, and they also look vulnerable to Australia's swift counter-attacks. The second goal came in the 81st minute after Kyah Simon played a through ball which saw the Japanese keeper, Chika Hirao, charge out to clear, but Hirao was beaten by Kerr's pace who slotted it easily into the empty net.
Overall, the Matildas had a near perfect three-match tournament earning seven points, and scoring six goals.
All four teams in the Tournament of Nations will take part in the Women's World Cup to be held in France next year from 7 June to 7 July.
The Matildas next friendly international is yet to be announced.