Forward Nahomi Kawasumi netted the only goal as Nadeshiko Japan defeated Australia 1-0 on Sept. 5, marking the team's third straight victory and inching it closer to a spot at the London Olympics.
Japan, the Women's World Cup winner and ranked fourth in the world, now leads the six-team group at the Asian Olympic qualifiers with nine points.
The top two teams in the group will play at the 2012 Summer Games. Ninth-ranked Australia now has only one win after three matches.
In the 62nd minute, forward Yuki Nagasato chipped a pass to Kawasumi who was racing up the left side. Kawasumi slotted home the tie-breaker past Australian goalkeeper Lydia Williams.
Nadeshiko Japan dominated from the beginning and had several scoring opportunities. But Williams' strong play kept the Australians in the game.
Early in the first half, Nagasato had a one-on-one situation with Williams, who blocked the shot with her left leg.
In the 30th minute, Kawasumi received a pass from defender Yukari Kinga near the goalmouth and fired a close shot. But Williams deflected the ball with her left hand.
Later, defender Aya Sameshima sped up the left side and unleashed a middle-range shot out of the penalty box, but she was off the target.
Early in the second half, Japan kept up the pressure. Kinga was in the box and fired toward the goal, but again, the Australian keeper made a good play to knock the ball out of harm's way.
Japan next meets North Korea at the same venue on Sept. 8.
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