Sydney: A second straight four-goal haul means Australia and Korea Republic will battle for top spot in Group A in Brisbane at the weekend after Ange Postecoglou’s Socceroos handed Oman a comprehensive 4-0 defeat at Stadium Australia on Tuesday evening to advance to the quarter-finals of the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015.
A draw will be enough for the tournament hosts on Saturday evening to win the group on goal difference and set up a quarter-final clash with the runners-up in Group B, after two goals in three minutes from Matt McKay and Robbie Kruse sent Australia on their way to an impressive victory.
A penalty from Mark Milligan and a close range strike from second-half substitute Tomi Juric added to Oman’s woes in a game in which Paul Le Guen’s side were totally outclassed.
Coupled with Korea’s 1-0 win over Kuwait earlier on Tuesday, the two quarter-finals berths from Group A have now been filled, with only the positions at the top of the table left to be determined.
McKay was drafted into the starting line-up as Postecoglou made three changes to the team that handed Kuwait a 4-1 thrashing in the opening game, with injured captain Mile Jedinak replaced by Mark Milligan, and McKay and Jason Davidson came in instead of James Troisi and Aziz Behich.
The changes did little to disrupt the rhythm of the Socceroos, who steadily took control of the game after an early scare, when Raed Saleh’s third minute thunderbolt from long range was brilliantly palmed to safety by Mat Ryan.
However, the Socceroos – just as they did against Kuwait in the tournament opener in Melbourne – slowly took control of the game and by the time the clock had ticked past the halfway point in the opening period, Australia were in total command.
Tim Cahill – captain for the night in Jedinak’s absence – twice went close with looping headers before McKay, one of the heroes of Australia’s run to the final in Qatar four years ago, put his side in front.
Robbie Kruse’s 27th minute corner from the Omani right was headed goalward by Trent Sainsbury and McKay scooped the ball over the line from close range to lift the majority of 50,276 fans to their feet.
Three minutes later the Australians doubled their advantage, with Kruse this time starting and finishing a fine move with a run from just inside his own half, laying the ball off to Massimo Luongo, whose return pass the Bayer Leverkusen striker slipped under Ali Al Habsi.
Milligan converted from the spot three minutes into first half injury time after Cahill was hauled down by Ali Al Busaidi as the Socceroos closed out an impressive opening 45 minutes with another goal.
Cahill and Luongo made way for Juric and Mark Bresciano five minutes after the restart and, with 20 minutes to go, Western Sydney Wanderers’ striker Juric put the seal on the win with a sliding finish after Leckie’s superb cross from the left with the outside of his right boot gave the Omandefence little chance.
Source : Asian Football Confederation Website