My personal blog on Scottish Women's Football
Mana Iwabuchi 87
Australia made two changes from the side that had knocked Brazil out, and they two players coming in had linked up for their winner. The scorer Kyah Simon and the assister Katrina Gorry came in for Michelle Heyman and Tameka Butt.
Japan named the same starting eleven that had beaten the Netherlands in their Last 16 tie.
The game started in a cagey manner, with both sides giving the ball away in the hot conditions, but slowly Japan started to dominate and a moment of improvisation nearly led to an early goal. Nahomi Kawasumi’s pass split the defence and noticing Lydia Williams was off her line Shinobu Ohno lobbed the keeper, but the ball narrowly went over.
Australia gave Japan a warning when Lisa de Vanna’s pass sent Kyah Simon into the box, but at the crucial moment she slipped allowing Azusa Iwashimizu to make the crucial tackle. Later Australia launched a counter, and they were two-on-two, but Katrina Gorry’s pass to Samantha Kerr was intercepted.
But then Japan should have taken the lead. A quick passing move played Kawasumi to the byline, she cut the ball back across to Ohno, but her first-time shot just went wide.
Australia had a free-kick just outside the box, but Alanna Kennedy’s curled effort just went wide of the near post.
Japan came close once again when Ohno passed to Aya Miyama whose first-time effort was well tipped over by Williams. From the resulting corner, Iwashimizu’s header was cleared off the line by brave defending from Elise Kellond-Knight.
The last action of the first came from an Australian counter, but Simon’s 30-yard drive was well saved by Ayumi Kaihori.
A Japanese mistake nearly handed Australia a goal early in the second half. Mizuho Sakaguchi stumbled on the ball, allowing Emily van Egmond to steal the ball and pick out Kerr. She tried to place the ball into the bottom-right corner but failed to get the required power to trouble Kaihori. Minutes later, van Egmond tried her luck from 25-yards, and her effort only just went over. Kaihori was worried.
Soon Japan regained their dominance. Sakaguchi’s early cross picked out Ohno who had got between two defenders, but she couldn’t get enough on her header to divert it on target. Another moment of improvisation nearly led to a goal. Saori Ariyoshi played the ball across the six-yard box, where at the near post, Miyama spun to flick the ball with her left foot and the ball only just went wide.
The game seemed to peter out, but in the final ten minutes Japan came back to life. Mana Iwabuchi played Rumi Utsugi into the box, but when she failed to shoot first time, she was tackled by Kellond-Knight. Then Kawasumi played a delightful early cross towards the near post where Yuki Ogimi volleyed over.
Sakaguchi played Iwabushi in, but her shot was blocked by Kellond-Knight. But it was from this corner that Japan took the lead. Miyama’s delivery was only partially cleared to Utsugi, whose mishit shot was going wide but turned out to be a great pass to Iwashimizu. Her shot was brilliantly saved by Williams, but she managed to stab the ball to Iwabushi who fired the ball into the empty net.
Australia could only create one final chance to equalise, but van Egmond’s shot lacked the venom to test Kaihori.
Nahomi Kawasumi – Japan
Australia: (4-3-3) Lydia Williams, Caitlin Foord, Laura Alleway, Alanna Kennedy, Steph Catley, Katrina Gorry (Michelle Heyman 76), Elise Kellond-Knight, Emily van Egmond, Lisa de Vanna (c) (Larissa Crummer 67), Kyah Simon (Ashleigh Sykes 89), Samantha Kerr.
Japan: (4-4-2) Ayumi Kaihori, Saori Ariyoshi, Azusa Iwashimizu, Saki Kumagai, Aya Sameshima, Nahomi Kawasumi, Mizuho Sakaguchi (Homare Sawa 90), Rum Utsugi, Aya Miyama, Shinobu Ohno (Mana Iwabuchi 72), Yuki Ogimi
Goal: Mana Iwabuchi 87.
Booked: Azusa Iwashimizu 27.