A late fightback by the Westfield Young Matildas wasn’t enough to prevent an agonising 2-1 defeat to China at the AFC U-19 Championships on Thursday night.
An evenly-fought contest swung China’s as goals either side of half-time to Qin Manman and Liu Yan gave them a valuable two-goal buffer.
But the Young Matildas stormed home and pulled a goal back via skipper Amy Harrison with 22 minutes left and despite finishing strongly, just couldn’t find an equaliser.
After a first-up loss to Japan on Tuesday, Ante Juric’s side is now unable to progress from the group stage, meaning they will miss out on qualification for next year’s FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papau New Guinea.
“We improved on a couple of things [from the Japan game] and were more positive in our performance,” Westfield Young Matildas coach Juric told www.theafc.com.
“I’d say we deserved more from the game, but China also played well. We’ll get better and learn from the last two games.
“Our team gave an extraordinary effort and did better than the two games you saw.”
The Young Matildas had the better of a frantic start with both Harrison and Larissa Crummer going close.
But seven minutes before the break a turnover on the left allowed China to spring forward with Liu crossing to an unmarked Qin who slammed it home from eight yards out.
Within 10 minutes of the restart it was 2-0 as Liu’s effort was brilliantly saved by Teagan Micah at point-blank range, but she stayed alive to poke home the rebound.
Just as it looked like the contest was over the Young Matildas halved the deficit midway through the second half.
An excellent incursion down the left by Beatrice Goad ended with her accurate cut-back being clinically finished by Harrison.
But the Aussies were unable to find another goal as China held on for a crucial win which booked their spot in the knockout phase.The Young Matildas end their tournament on Saturday when they take on Uzbekistan.