Goals to Nicole Christodoulou, Annmarie De Uriarte and a brace to Georgia Beikoff have sealed a 4-2 come-from-behind victory for the CommBank ParaMatildas against Japan in the IFCPF Asia Oceania Championships.
The girls in green and gold have made a habit of scoring early in this tournament, and this game was no different. Georgia Beikoff found space in the middle of the park and shot the ball to where the spiders live, giving the CommBank ParaMatildas the lead within 10 seconds.
However, that lead didn’t last long. Japan equalised through Mai Ohta less than two minutes later, a well-hit long shot finding its way past Carly Salmon in goals.
The team in blue took the lead in the 13th minute. It was a tidy finish from Ayumi Takemura, sliding the ball under the goalkeeper.
Australia now found themselves in an unfamiliar position – behind for the first time against Japan – and needed to dig deep. Karina Grigorian was busy up front, while Beikoff and Eloise Northam were constant threats.
Tahlia Blanshard shot just wide before the half, while a wonderful turn from Beikoff resulted in a shot straight at goalkeeper Miyabi Hamada.
The second half saw the team come out with renewed vigour in search of an equaliser. Northam shot just over, and Beikoff hit the crossbar in the opening minutes of the half.
It was substitute Nicole Christodoulou who was in the right place for the leveller. After a long throw in from Northam, Christodoulou directed the ball in at the back post.
The CommBank ParaMatildas regained the lead two minutes later from Georgia Beikoff. Her fourth goal of the tournament came after arriving late on the edge of the penalty area, the result of a well-worked corner routine with Northam.
Japan pushed hard to get back into the game. Salmon had to make several important saves, especially directly from Japanese goal kicks.
However, it would be 15-year-old Annmarie De Uriarte who would seal the result for Australia, the youngster making it 4-2 in stoppage time with a well-hit strike from inside the penalty area.
The team will now turn their attention to one more game against Nepal tomorrow, before competing in the final against Japan on Friday evening.
Australia: 4 (Georgia Beikoff 1’ 32’, Nicole Christodoulou 30', Annmarie de Uriarte 50’+1)
Japan: 2 (Mai Ohta 2', Ayumi Takemura 13').
Australia: 1.Carly Salmon (c), 3. Tahlia Blanshard (Rae Anderson 50’) 7. Eloise Northam (8. Annmarie de Uriarte 42’) 4. Karina Grigorian (2. Nicole Christodoulou 22'), 10. Georgia Beikoff
Substitutes not used: 5. Tamsin Colley 6. Katelyn Smith
Japan: 2. Mai Ohta, 3. Miyabi Hamada, 4. Saki Kuroki, 5. Mayuko Kaiga, 6. Ayumi Takemuri
Substitutes not used: 1. Masami Ryochi, 7. Rie Ishihara