A decisive third-quarter goal proved the difference as the Hockeyroos prevailed in a 1-0 win over Japan to maintain an undefeated run at Tokyo 2020. For all your Tokyo 2020 coverage, stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic hub and the Olympics Central.
After conceding one goal in two games and holding a goal differential of eight after wins against Spain and China, Australia was able to hold on to a 1-0 victory against Japan through a third-quarter strike from Madison Fitzpatrick.
It was a scoreless first half with neither side able to find the back of the net for a goal however that all changed after halftime as Australia struck within three minutes from a penalty corner.
With many attacking opportunities created by the Australians, leading the penetrations in the circle and earning penalty corners and penalty shots, they were the more pressing side for a large majority of the game and deserving winners in an at-times tense affair.
The Hockeyroos were far and away the more dominant team as the game progressed, although were challenged early on by Japan as the host nation had the only shot on target of the first quarter, saved by Aussie goalkeeper Rachael Lynch.
Australia earned a penalty corner two minutes into the second quarter as Grace Stewart found the foot of a defender, though Kate Jenner’s shot and Brooke Peris’ follow-up were each saved by Japan’s goalkeeper Asano Sakiyo.
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Japan’s Torimaya Mai was shown a green card for a deliberate back stick in the circle, sending her to serve a two-minute suspension as Australia looked to take advantage. However, Asano was able to deny Kaitlin Nobbs’ effort on the penalty stroke yet again.
Japan appeared to have scored in the fourth minute of the second quarter however Australia chose to use its video referral, and to good effect as the goal was disallowed. Another missed shot came before Torimaya’s suspension ended yet it was Jenner’s turn to see a green card, serving a suspension with five minutes remaining in the half where Asano saved another Australian shot from Ambrosia Malone moments before the whistle.
Heading out of the main break, Australia got forward early, determined to score though missed two shots within the first two minutes, including Rosie Malone’s shot that hit the side of the goal. It wasn’t until a penalty corner was awarded to the Aussies that they were rewarded for their style of play.
Winning a penalty corner, Australia was able to convert on the chance. After Jane-Anne Claxton received the ball in from the edge of the field, she passed to her left where Kate Jenner’s fake cleared a path for Fitzpatrick to wind up and find an opening.
Another two-minute green card suspension was shown Japan’s way, this time to Aki Yamada, with Australia pressing on with speed up the field. Malone, who beat her marker, failed to connect on a shot at the top of the circle, denied again by Asano a minute before the final break.
The fourth quarter began with the action still being more in the Australians half, as Stewart sent a shot wide of the goals.
A dangerous challenge on Maho Segawa from Australia’s Renee Taylor, shown a yellow card and forced to sit out for five minutes, would’ve had the Japanese team believing they were in with a shot to equalise.
Japan did make use of Australia being a player down, enjoying some possession deep in its own end and though Japan tried to make the most of its chances, still couldn’t land a shot, signifying the rock-solid defence of Australia.
Taylor’s suspension came to an end but the Japanese were feeling good, still upbeat and still in control in its own attacking territory, although, came to no avail as Australia found itself on a quick break but another shot by Mariah Williams was blocked by Asano.
With the game on the line and another yellow card given to Taylor who would sit out the remainder of the three minutes left, Japan elected to replace its goalkeeper Asano with another attacking player from the bench, in an attempt to draw level and salvage a point.
Although battling to the very end, Japan did attack with its extra player advantage, Segawa offering up Japan’s second shot of the game with two minutes to go though Lynch, even though not being called into action much, saved the shot with ease.
The win sees Australia maintain a perfect start to its Tokyo 2020 campaign, sitting in top spot with three wins ahead of a fixture against second-placed New Zealand tomorrow.
Final Result: Australia 1 – 0 China
Australia goals: Madison Fitzpatrick 33′