Australia's Asian Football Confederation (AFC) rivals Japan went down 2-1 to Brazil in their Tournament of Nations clash earlier this morning (AEST).
A frenetic final 15 minutes saw Brazil open the lead through Marta before sealing their first win of the tournament through Beatriz’s 90th minute match winner.
Japan struck late through Rika Masuya’s brilliant injury-time header, but it would only be a consolation for the reigning Asian Champions, who slipped to their second loss of the tournament.
The result means Japan are out of title contention, while Brazil will need to beat the USA on Friday morning and hope Australia fail to beat Japan to claim the trophy.
After this morning’s thrilling double header in Connecticut, the tournament will conclude at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Chicago.
Japan will take on Australia at 7:45AM before USA and Brazil clash at 10:30AM (both AEST).
Despite their elimination, there’s no doubt Japan will be intent on preventing the Westfield Matildas from claiming the win they need to defend their tournament crown.
They’ll certainly want to avoid a third consecutive defeat and salvage some pride from a tournament that has been tinged with some misfortune.
WATCH THE WESTFIELD MATILDAS TAKE ON REIGNING AFC ASIAN CUP CHAMPIONS JAPAN AT 7.45AM AEST ON FRIDAY 3 AUGUST, LIVE ON FOX SPORTS 505.
Japan came flying out of the blocks against the South Americans, with Mana Iwabuchi, Risa Shimizu, Yuka Momiki all having efforts skilfully denied by Brazilian goalkeeper Aline.
But the must-win nature of the contest eventually saw Asako Takakura’s side implement a more cautious strategy as the match progressed.
It was an approach that ensured the game remained finely poised – until an error from Aya Sameshima deep in the Japanese half allowed Brazil to open the scoring through Marta with fifteen minutes remaining.
That proved to be a critical blow for Japan, who piled numbers forward in search of a response but were picked off by Beatriz’s 90th minute match-clincher.
Masuya pulled a goal back late for Japan with a spectacular diving header, a strike that highlighted Japan’s set-piece variety.
The Asian heavyweights have already proven their ability to create chances from all over the final third, and the Westfield Matildas will need to be at their best when the pair face off on Friday morning.
Westfield Matildas v Japan
Date: Thursday, 2 August 2018 (local)
Venue: Toyota Park, Bridgeview, Illinois
Kick-off: 4.45pm (local) (7.45am AEST – Friday, 3 August 2018)
Broadcast: LIVE in Australia on FOX SPORTS 505 and the My Football Live app