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The Australian Hockeyroos have confirmed their qualification for the Rio Olympic Games quarter-finals with a two-goal victory over the lowly ranked Japan.
Coming into the match, Australia only needed to win or draw to move into third spot in Group B after Argentina comprehensively beat India earlier in the day.
The same issues that have been hampering Australia all-tournament once again impeded their progress, as they were simply unable to convert on opportunities that presented themselves all too regularly.
In saying that, Japan played much better than they have done throughout the Games and so the scoreline looks worse for Australia than what is actually was, given Japan’s goal difference of -11 coming into the game.
Australia would start the game looking to attack, and it was clear early on that with Japan looking to get out and run, going for long balls down the field and trying to increase the tempo of the game there was going to be a lot of space and the match was going to be free flowing in nature.
Unfortunately, the attacking strategy didn’t work all that well for Japan, but that was more down to their decision-making skills than anything else. They had multiple elevated or long balls that ended up over either the sideline or baseline, consistently giving Australia possession.
The first goal was scored very early in the second quarter with Mariah Williams benefiting from some excellent defensive work of Emily Smith to flick it into the back of the net.
Smith was close to the best player on ground, playing outstandingly, involved in everything on both attack and defence and never taking a backwards step.
Australia would waste a number of penalty corners throughout the match, and in their search for the killer blow never look like putting it away.
That was until very late in the game when a magical cross into the circle from Grace Parker went across the face of goal, past the goalkeeper and straight onto the stick of Emily Smith who put it in the back of the net.
Australia will now move onto play the winner of New Zealand and China in the quarter-finals on Tuesday Morning (AEST), while Japan crash out of the tournament without a victory.