Japan lift 2014 AFC Women's Asian Cup

The Japanese women's national team claimed their second major title in three years with a defeat of Australia
Japan were crowned Women's Asian champions for the first time following a hard-fought 1-0 win over defending champions Australia in the final of the 2014 AFC Women's Asian Cup on Sunday night.

The Nadeshiko had stormed through the group stages with 4-0 and 7-0 wins over host nation Vietnam and Jordan respectively but could only manage a 2-2 draw with fellow finalists Australia, after coming back from two goals down.

Australia who reached the final-four as runners-up in their group, overcame South Korea 2-1 in the semi-finals while Japan needed extra-time to see off China.

Azusa Iwashimizu grabbed the championship winning goal for Japan in the 28th minute, finding the back of the net with a header off of a Rumi Utsugi cross.

"It's a title we really wanted to win and we finally get to experience it," said Iwashimizu after the match. "Utsugi sent me a great ball and I just made contact; I couldn't tell what was happening in front of the
goal. It was difficult to win this tournament and we wouldn't have been able to win without everyone's strength."

Team captain Aya Miyama also added that team had to deliver given that they were coming into the competition as reigning world champions.

"Of course our goal was to win this tournament, but we're also the defending world champions and there's a lot we have to do ahead of next year's Women's World Cup," said Miyama. "Japan's men won the Asian Cup so we wanted to win as well. I think if any of our players were missing we wouldn't have been able to win."

In the night's other match, China beat South Korea 2-1 with an injury time winner to claim third place.

Japan, Australia, China, South Korea and Thailand, who won the fifth-place playoff mid-week, have qualified for the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada.