Australia scored a huge victory, 3-1 over hosts Japan on the first day of Asian qualifying for this summer’s Olympic Games in Brazil. The six-team round robin is jammed into a 10-day window and by beating the leading team in the region the Matildas set a course to qualify for the first time since 2004 when they were still part of Oceania. The top two teams after the round robin will be on their way to Brazil.
Lisa De Vanna and Michelle Heyman scored first half goals to give Australia a 2-0 lead after 40 minutes. Japan got back into the thick of it behind a Yuki Ogimi goal in first half stoppage time. But Australia ruled the second half as well, going up 3-1 Katrina Gorry on 78 minutes. The win marked the first time Australia has defeated Japan in Japan. When they last met, Japan knocked Australia out of the World Cup with a 1-0 victory in the quarterfinals.
The full match report from Football Federation Australia is here.
In other Day 1 action, the Koreas played to a 1-1 draw as North Korea marked their return to world soccer following a ban from the 2015 World Cup over doping. Also, China defeated the weak link of the group, Vietnam, 2-0.
Action resumes Wednesday. Australia may be tempted to rest some regulars against Vietnam while Japan will look to get their ship righted against South Korea. North Korea will play China.
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