Barbieri leads Matildas to sweetest Victory

The Matildas, led by Melbourne Victory co-captain Melissa Barbieri, provided the Socceroos with some inspiration ahead of the World Cup by claiming Australia's first Asian football title at the women's Asian Cup in China on Sunday night.

The Matildas, led by Melbourne Victory co-captain Melissa Barbieri, provided the Socceroos with some inspiration ahead of the World Cup by claiming Australia's first Asian football title at the women's Asian Cup in China on Sunday night.

Tom Sermanni's team overcame several injury setbacks and monsoonal conditions in Chengdu to go a step better than their runner-up finish at the 2006 tournament with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over North Korea in the final.

With scores locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes and extra time, the Matildas were flawless in the shootout, winning 5-4 after 18-year-old substitute Kyah Simon netted her spot-kick.

"We're Asian champions, Australia, it's amazing," goalkeeper and Matildas captain, Barbieri said after the win.

"I'm so proud of the team and how they stuck in there."

Sixteen-year-old winger Samantha Kerr, younger sister of AFL star Daniel Kerr, put Australia ahead with a well-taken goal in the 19th minute.

But North Korea came out firing in the second half and were rewarded when midfielder Jo Yun Mi headed an 73rd minute equaliser to send the match into extra time.

The victory helped bury the memories of 2006 Asian Cup, when Australia surrendered a 2-0 lead to lose on penalties to China in the final in Adelaide.

"I just felt for the team having come so close four years ago," Sermanni said.

"I'm really proud of the players that we came through this time and thrashed it out with a team that's fairly young and fairly inexperienced."

"I feel great for the players."

Sermanni, who described the conditions as "Scottish mid-season winter weather", said he hoped the win would inspire Pim Verbeek's squad in South Africa.

"It'd be nice to have a double," he said.

"We've always had fantastic support from the Socceroos players and the staff and we give them our full support as well."