Kerr fires Westfield Matildas to FIFA Women's World Cup in last-gasp draw with Japan
Sam Kerr rescued the Westfield Matildas from the brink of AFC Women's Asian Cup exit by burying a dramatic 86th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Japan that sends both countries to the FIFA Women's World Cup.
Kerr netted at the death to cancel out Mizuho Sakaguchi's surprise second-half opener, securing the point Australia needed to top Group B in Amman.
Sakaguchi had looked to have consigned Alen Stajcic's side to a make-or-break play-off for a spot at France 2019 when she scored with a rare Japan chance just after the hour.
But superstar striker Kerr was the hero, instead sealing automatic qualification to go with a place in the Semi-Finals in Jordan.
They will now meet Group A runners-up Thailand on late Tuesday night (AEST) for a place in the AFC Women's Asian Cup Final.
STORY OF THE GAME
- CHANCE: An Ellie Carpenter throw drops for Lisa De Vanna but, under pressure, she can only poke over the bar.
- CHANCE: De Vanna threatens again as she's first to Sam Kerr's low pass to the near post, but the retreating Japan defenders blanket the finish.
- CHANCE: Kerr this time fires a half-volley wide from a narrow angle after battling past two defenders.
- CHANCE: An unmarked Alanna Kennedy can't keep her header down from a corner on the stroke of half-time.
- GOAL! Japan lead as Sakaguchi converts their first real opportunity just beyond the hour.
- CHANCE: Carpenter swings in a cross from the right that Kerr can only nod past the post.
- SHOT: Chloe Logarzo hits a snapshot in the area that's deflected and held by Ayaka Yamashita.
- GOAL! Kerr saves the tournament for Australia, levelling matters late in normal time.
Mizuho Sakaguchi, Japan 63': 1-0
Yui Hasegawa is released into the penalty area and her cut-back is clinically swept inside the near post by Sakaguchi.
Sam Kerr, Australia 86': 1-1
Kyah Simon's shot takes a deflection and is bobbled by goalkeeper Yamashita under pressure from Kerr, who swoops on the loose ball and fires in on the turn.