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San Diego: A red hot Sam Kerr produced a spectacular first half hat-trick as Australia continued their perfect start to the Tournament of Nations, recording a convincing 4-2 win over a youthful Japanese side in San Diego on Sunday.

The win follows last Thursday’s 1-0 success against the United States, and puts the Matildas one win away from becoming the fledgling tournament’s first champions.

Both coaches used the match to rotate their respective squads – with Australia’s Alen Stajcic making five changes to the starting lineup from Thursday’s win over the United States, while Atsuko Takakura added six new faces to the Japanese side that drew with Brazil.

The new-look Nadeshiko made a dream start, taking the lead inside six minutes when NTV Beleza forward Mina Tanaka beat Australian goalkeeper Mackenzie Arnold with a header from a corner kick.

The lead would last just four minutes, as Hayley Raso caught the Japanese defence napping, showing a great turn of speed to set up Kerr for the simplest of finishes.

The Matildas in-from striker doubled her tally five minutes later when she robbed defensive debutant Riho Sakamoto of the ball before calmly placing her shot beyond goalkeeper Sakiko Ikeda.

Kerr nearly added a third in the 25th minute, but this time Ikeda was up to the challenge, producing a sharp save to prevent the Sky Blue FC star from claiming her first international hat-trick.

That honour came on the stroke of half time, as Kerr’s blistering pace was once again too much for Japan to handle. Latching onto a long-ball, Kerr left the Nadeshiko defence in her wake before stroking the ball into an empty net after Ikeda had saved her initial effort.

After the break Emi Nakajama had a great chance to close the gap, but fluffed her lines from close range on the hour mark and Japan were punished immediately as Yui Hasegawa was penalised for handling the ball in the penalty area, allowing Emily van Egmond to make it 4-1 from the penalty spot.

Deep into injury time, Japanese substitute Yuka Momiki provided some late consolation for the Asian Champions, scoring her second goal in as many matches.

In Sunday's evening fixture, the United States came from 3-1 down to claim a dramatic 4-3 win over Brazil

Australia’s 4-2 win means the Matildas will become the Tournament of Nations’ inaugural champions should they draw or beat Brazil on Thursday.

Japan’s tournament also concludes on Thursday, when they meet the United States in a repeat of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final.

Photos: AFP