Agony for Team GB as extra-time collapse sees Matildas waltz on
The game hinged on a frantic two minutes in extra-time
The Olympic dream is over for Hege Riise's Team GB side after an agonising extra-time defeat to Australia sees them bow out at the quarter-final stage.
After breezing through their group with victories over Chile and Japan, hopes had been raised that Great Britain would win their first Olympic medal since 1912 in football in Tokyo. With two minutes of regulation time remaining in Kashima, it appeared they were firmly on course.
Despite falling behind to Alana Kennedy's thumping first-half header, a brace from Ellen White had them on the brink of a semi-final berth. It was not to be: with stoppage time looming, Sam Kerr pulled down a cross from Kennedy and powered a low shot home for the equaliser.
If this alone hadn't been enough to swing momentum in favour of the Australians, a wild two-minute spell in the first period of extra-time did. Team GB were presented with the opportunity to re-take the lead as Nikita Parris drew a foul from Ellie Carpenter inside the box. Caroline Weir could not seize the opportunity - her tame shot pushed away by Teagan Micah.
Buoyed by the penalty save, the Matildas surged forward immediately. 18-year-old Mary Fowler's fierce, deflected shot gave them the lead, mere seconds after they looked certain to fall behind.
Any hopes of a Team GB comeback appeared to have been doused almost instantly as the second period of extra-time begun. Australia, immediately on the front foot, flooded forward, Tameka Yallop crossed and Kerr, beating Steph Houghton, nodded home her second.
White briefly reignited a faint flicker of belief that Team GB might still salvage something when she completed her hat-trick with five minutes to play, but Australia were otherwise comfortable - holding on to a 4-3 win to book their spot in the semi-finals.
The Matildas deserved their win on the balance of play. For Great Britain, knowing how close they came to winning the game in the 90, knowing they had a golden opportunity to re-take the lead in extra-time, will only add to the sense of disappointment. For all that has been good about their return to Olympic football, this is a bitterly cruel way for it to end.