After a difficult first half, the Matildas pulled it together for the second, with an early Alanna Kennedy goal in the half from a crafty free kick settling the nerves and providing the foundation for Sam Kerr to finish the game off in the 81st minute.

The first half saw a disjointed affair for Australia. At times it looked like patient build up at the back would pay off, as it had done against Brazil. However too often Japan were able to cut the ball out, due to a stray pass before the Matildas could build momentum.

Japan were the more dynamic side in the first half, Emi Nakajima and Mina Tanaka linking up to be every centre backs nightmare. One chance came and went when Nakajima got in behind the defence from the blind side getting the ball as the pass to her split the defenders.

Lucky for the Matildas play was stopped for offside. Minutes before halftime Japan had an opportunity through a freekick swerving in under the post that was only denied by the fingertips of Lydia Williams.

Up the other end, the Matildas chances were few and far between in the half. Japanese goalkeeper Chika Hirao worked wonders preventing any highball near the mixer from going near the goal. Gielnik did get an opportunity from a second ball on the 41st minute after Hirao’s punched ball landed at her feet, but the ball wound up wide of the posts.

Neither side were impartial to substitutions today, after Australia’s early substitutions of Larissa Crummer and Emily Gielnik coming on for Lisa De Vanna and Clare Polkinghorne, Japan made a host of changes during the halftime break, seeing the interchange of four attacking players. This changed the dynamic of the game.

Enter the second half, early promise from a Matildas surge forward turns to success. A free kick on the left corner of the penalty box sees Alanna Kennedy provide some magic and the first goal of the match, beating the wall and goalkeeper hitting it low and hard at the near post.

With the game much more open in the second half and with the deadlock broken, both sides provided some excellent opportunities. Some last-ditch defending prevented Japan truly utilizing some of their threatening chances, whilst some fingertip saves halted the Matildas from increasing the lead. Special mention goes to Hayley Raso, whose solo run on the 55th minute transitioning from defence lightning fast, very nearly could have been goal of the tournament.

Inevitably it was Sam Kerr who stood up to put the game out of reach. After the post and Hirao had denied Kerr from earlier chances, on the 81st minute Kerr found success.

The lead up to the goal was a mess, with Kennedy winning the ball, passing it off to the opponent, Kyah Simon receiving it off a Japanese player, then slotting it through to Kerr. Through a comedy of errors Kerr had Hirao well off her line challenging for the ball, who Kerr dinked past, put on the jets to have an empty net to get the Matildas second goal.

All in all, a 2-0 win over Japan signals a good end to a strong Tournament of Nations for the Matildas. It all depends on the final result between Brazil and the United States for who will win the trophy at the end of the night.

Any result for Brazil will see Australia win the tournament but if the United States win it will all go down to goal differences, then FIFA Rankings.