Socceroos take flight against Palestine

 

Socceroos take flight against Palestine
Palestine's Shadi Shaban (left) fights for the ball with Australia's Massimo Luongo during the Asian Cup match.

Dubai - A change of scenery did wonders for Graham Arnold's men

By James Jose

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Published: Fri 11 Jan 2019, 9:34 PM

Last updated: Fri 11 Jan 2019, 11:37 PM

Australia reignited their title defence of the AFC Asian Cup with a clinical victory over Palestine at the Rashid Stadium on Friday.
Down and under after a chastening solitary goal defeat at the hands of Jordan in their tournament opener, the Socceroos won their Group B fixture 3-0.
Australia avoided the ignominy of becoming the first reigning champions to have lost both their games in the competition.
A change of scenery did wonders for Graham Arnold's men with the loss to Jordan in Al Ain, now a distant memory.
The Socceroos turned it on here in Dubai, putting their head down and coming up with a workmanlike performance. And their fans, who packed into the Stadium got their money's worth.
Palestine suffered their fourth loss across two appearances in the tournament - in 2015 and this edition, but they can take heart from the fact that they recorded the first point following that goalless stalemate against Syria.
Truth be told. It was Palestine who started the better of the two sides. Cheered on by their fans, who too came in numbers, Abdallah Jaber drilled his left-footed shot wide of the post following an assist from Shadi Shaban, on seven minutes.
Another opportunity went abegging in the same minute with Mahmoud Wadi's left-footed effort from the six-yard box just missing the woodwork.
Australia went close on 10 minutes but Trent Sainabury's shot was blocked by the defence.
Awer Mabil too was denied on 14 minutes, with the defence standing firm yet again.
But the charging Socceroos couldn't be tied down for too long and they broke the deadlock on 18 minutes. Tomas Rogic fired a superb cross from the right and Jamie MacLaren sent his glancing header into the far corner of the net. The Australians were two goals to the good two minutes later with Chris Ikonomidis floating one from  the left for Mabil to sneak in behind defender Musab Battat and slot home from close range.
Mabil could've added a second to his account but drilled it over following MacLaren's assist, with four minutes left in the half.
Palestine came close on 73 minutes but Wadi's header just went wide of the post following Jaber's cross.
Apostolos Gianni, who had come on for MacLaren on 82 minutes, then scored Australia's third in the final minute.


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