Riding Ji So-yun's late long-range stunner, South Korea halted the Australian juggernaut with a 1-0 win to enter the semifinals of the Women's Asian Cup and book a 2023 FIFA World Cup spot in Pune on Sunday. (More Football News)
The Chelsea midfielder thumped her effort home from 25 yards two minutes from time to give the Koreans victory after Cho So-hyun had missed a penalty against the 2018 runners-up who had stormed into the quarterfinals with three big wins on the trot.
Ji's goal allowed her to overshadow her clubmate Sam Kerr as the Australian forward endured a disappointing game in front of goal as the Matildas crashed out of the tournament. Australia have already qualified for the 2023 World Cup as co-hosts, along with New Zealand.
Kerr had her first sight of goal as early as the seventh minute, chesting a long ball into the penalty area before rifling her effort over the bar.
Twelve minutes later the Australians threatened again, with Kerr involved once more. The Chelsea striker flicked the ball into the path of Mary Fowler as the Korean defence was backpedalling, but the midfielder's effort from distance was pushed wide by Kim Jung-mi.
From the resulting corner, the Matildas went closer still with Kerr's header coming back off the woodwork. The Koreans were hanging on.
Colin Bell's side were then handed the opportunity to take an unexpected lead when, after a lengthy VAR check, were awarded a penalty after Caitlin Foord was judged to have fouled Lee Geum-min inside the area.
Cho So-hyun, however, squandered the opportunity to give her side the lead with only five minutes remaining in the half when she fired her right foot spot kick high over Lydia Williams' crossbar.
The Koreans came out for the second half looking to make amends for that miss, with Choe Yu-ri forcing Williams into a fine save six minutes after the restart while the goalkeeper was on hand again four minutes later to deny Cho So-hyun's header.
Kerr's struggles in front of goal continued with 15 minutes remaining when she dragged her effort wide of the goal after substitute Cortnee Vine's pace down the right flank had put her in position to provide her team mate with a git-edged opportunity.
Then, with two minutes remaining, Ji hit the winner. Picking up possession 30 yards from goal she strode forward before unleashing a right foot drive that Williams could only admire as it flew into the top corner.