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Michelle Heyman says Matildas intent on Olympic Games goal after Japan win

Matildas striker Michelle Heyman admits World Cup revenge was part of the motivation in beating Japan, but the Canberra United star never expected a referee to help her with a goal-scoring assist in the Rio Olympic Games qualifiers.

Heyman and the Matildas took their first step towards an Olympic recall when they shocked Japan 3-1 in Osaka on Tuesday night.

Michelle Heyman scores a crucial goal in the Matildas 3-1 win against Japan.
Michelle Heyman scores a crucial goal in the Matildas 3-1 win against Japan. Photo: Koji Watanabe

It came almost eight months after Japan knocked the Matildas out of the World Cup in a semi-final showdown and took a bizarre twist when Heyman scored late in the first half.

Referee Carina Vitulano attempted to duck an infield pass from Japan, but it hit her on the shoulder and went straight to Australian co-skipper Lisa de Vanna.

Heyman took off down the field to latch on to a de Vanna pass, stepping around the goalkeeper and slotting home a crucial goal to give the Matildas a 2-0 lead.

It was a sweet moment with World Cup heartbreak lingering.

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"The first thing I thought was: 'just sprint'. It was a lovely one-two off the ref," Heyman laughed.

"In my mind I was just trying to get up the field as quick as I could so I was in a scoring opportunity. The ball de Vanna put through was absolutely perfect.

"I panicked for a second, but I had to tap it in. It's good that something finally went our way, we've had a lot of unlucky calls. We're still smiling and we've got that buzz."

Asked if beating Japan helped ease some of the pain of being knocked out of the World Cup, Heyman said: "Japan took the World Cup away from us so in my mind I wanted to take this from them. I think most of the girls were thinking the same thing.

"We all went for it and it clearly showed."

The Matildas face a gruelling schedule to book their ticket to Rio, with their next match to be against Vietnam on Wednesday night just 48 hours after beating Japan.

They will play five games in 10 days in the hope of qualifying for the Olympics, and coach Alen Stajcic will manager player work load to ensure there's no burnout.

Heyman had a lean goal-scoring year in the W-League compared to the lofty standards she has set as the competition's most prolific scorers.

She was continually double teamed but still managed to score five goals in Canberra's season.

Heyman hopes her opportunistic goal opens the floodgates for her in the qualifying tournament.

"The belief we have in each other is through the roof. We know we were unlucky at the World Cup, but we know we can be better than ever," Heyman said.

"Our goal is to get to Rio, we want it and we can feel it so we're going to work hard for it.

"To have everyone back home supporting us is massive, and it's so nice to feel the love because we need it. We're doing this for our country and we want to show the world who we are.

"We'll give it everything we've got and show everyone our guts."

The Matildas have to finish in the top two at the tournament to secure a Rio Olympic berth. They play Vietnam, Korea Republic, DPR Republic and China PR over the next eight days.

RIO OLYMPIC QUALIFYING

Wednesday: Australian Matildas v Vitenam at Yanmar Stadium Nagai, Osaka at 6.35pm AEDT.