Written by the Football Federation Australia
A late goal by Kyah Simon has earned the Westfield Young Matildas a deserved 1-1 draw against Japan in the opening match of the AFC U19 Women's Championship being held in Wuhan, China.
Simon's 88th minute headed goal secured the valuable point, after Japan had taken the lead in the 66th minute.
Played in hot and humid conditions, the match was an even contest throughout with both sides having patches of domination.
Japan took the lead against the run of play, when their key striker curled a magnificent shot from 25 yards into the top corner.
But Australia kept fighting and they got their reward, when the Central Coast Mariners combination of Karina Roweth's cross of the right, found Simon and she headed over the Japan keeper.
Australia started strongly without creating any real chances in the opening 20 minutes, although Marianna Tabain had one goalbound shot deflected wide.
Ten minutes later, Japan also had a shot on goal deflected as the Japanese upped the tempo.
Head Coach Alen Stajcic then made a tactical substitution after 38 minutes, bringing on Ashleigh Sykes for Courtney Beutel up front, but it was up the other end where the action was; Casey Dumont forced to tip a chipped shot over the bar in the 40th minute. .
Both defences were doing extremely well and it was no different in the second half, with neither able to find the cutting edge in front of goal in the opening 15-20 minutes.
The opening goal just seconds after the Japanese just managed to touch the ball away from Tabain as she was through on goal and the ball was quickly released up field for a Japan counter-attack. It proved devastating with Iwabuchi curling a sensational shot from 25m into top right corner.
Australia then upped the tempo in search of an equaliser, with substitute Samantha Kerr heading just wide, while Sykes overran a great cross by Simon inside the six yard box with nine minutes to go.
Australia duly got their reward, when Roweth’s cross from the right was pinpoint for Simon, who was just outside the six-yard box and she looped a header over the keeper.
Simon had one last attempt to snatch victory with a free kick from 25 metres out, but her attempt went over the bar.
Stajcic felt the draw was a fair reflection of the game and the team can take a lot of confidence from the performance.