Printer Friendly and PDF

Kuala Lumpur: Australia produced a near-perfect display to secure the inaugural Tournament of Nations title, sounding an early 2018 AFC Women’s Asian Cup warning as they thrashed Brazil 6-1 in Carson, California.

The win gives Australia an unassailable lead atop the tournament standings, having won three matches.

Needing only a draw to claim the title, Alen Stajcic’s side were ruthless in their pursuit of goals, marking their first international tournament win since their 2010 AFC Women’s Asian Cup triumph in China.

For the second time in as many matches, Australia fell behind almost immediately – this time through Brazil’s Camila, who steered through the ball through a sea of Australian legs and into the net after less than two minutes.

However, as in their previous fixture against Japan, the Matildas were on level terms in the blink of an eye after Sam Kerr was fouled in the penalty area, giving veteran forward Lisa De Vanna the chance to equalise.

The 32-year-old’s initial effort was saved by debutant goalkeeper Dani Neuhaus, but De Vanna pounced on the rebound to ease Australian nerves.

A Caitlin Foord tap-in gave Australia the lead after Kerr’s pace exposed the Brazilian defence after 32 minutes, and the rampant Matildas continued their scoring spree just two minutes later, with the outstanding Kerr again providing the assist – this time for De Vanna (pictured above).

The goal – her 42nd at international level – meant De Vanna overtook Kate Gill as Australia’s all-time topscorer.

Katrina Gorry then joined Foord as an AFC Women’s Player of the Year winner to get on the scoresheet, deftly beating two defenders before drilling a sublime strike across the goal and in off the post to give Australia a 4-1 half-time lead.

Australia's Ellie Carpenter (left) fends off Ludmila of Brazil during their Tournament Of Nations match at the StubHub Centre in Carson, California.

Their attacking legion were devastating, but equally impressive was the defensive display of 17-year-old Ellie Carpenter, who repelled a number of Brazilian raids and contributed with the ball at her feet.

Foord added a fifth Australian goal in the 67th minute – latching on to Tameka Butt’s defence-splitting pass before rounding the isolated Neuhas and rolling the ball into an empty net.

Fittingly, it was the unstoppable Kerr who had the final say; holding off two defenders to slam home her fourth goal in two matches as Brazil conceded six for the first time since 1999.

Japan's Mina Tanaka clears a cross during the Tournment of Nations tie against the United States.

Japan’s campaign ended on a losing note, as the United States produced their best performance of the tournament to register a 3-0 win in the final Tournament of Nations tie.

Picking up where they left off in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final, the Americans were too strong for the Nadeshiko, who finished the tournament in third place, with one draw and two losses.

The Asian Champions fell behind when experienced forward Megan Rapinoe showed her class to score from close range after 12 minutes, having been denied by both the woodwork and goalkeeper Ayaka Yamashita in the preceding two minutes.

Asako Takakura’s side grew in rhythm and confidence late in the opening period, but the Americans regained control, with two-time FIFA World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd and striker Christen Press both squandering good chances to score early in the second half.

The Americans were eventually rewarded when Taylor Smith’s excellent pass released 19-year-old Mallory Pugh, who finished emphatically to double the Americans lead at the hour mark.

Japan weren’t without their chances. Mina Tanaka saw a shot cleared on the goal-line by Julie Ertz, while Madoka Haji found herself through on goal with only goalkeeper Alyssa Naher to beat, only to pull her effort wide.

But the World Champions were deserved winners, and completed the scoring when the impressive Smith supplied Alex Morgan, who added a third from close range, with a heavy deflection from the lunging Aya Sameshima helping the ball beyond the stranded Yamashita and into the net.

Final tournament standings

Pos. Team P W D L F A GD Pts
1 AUSTRALIA 3 3 0 0 11 3 +8 9
2 United States 3 2 0 1 7 4 +3 6
3 JAPAN 3 0 1 2 3 8 -5 1
4 Brazil 3 0 1 2 5 11 -6 1

Photos: AFP