By Colm Boohig
The hosts got off to a perfect start at this year’s Asian Cup in the Rectangular Stadium with a comfortable 4-1 victory over Kuwait. However, the Socceroos did not always have it all their own way.
As early as the 8th minute the visitors shocked the partisan Melbourne crowd when defender Hussain’s superb diving header from a corner gave Kuwait the lead. This wasn’t in the script and the Aussies struggled to break down the stubborn opposition thereafter, relying on questionable penalty calls to get back into the game. It took nearly half an hour after going behind, but eventually Australia restored parity.
And who else to do the honours other than the living legend himself, Tim Cahill, who smashed in Massimo Luongo’s cut back to make it 1-1. Luongo wasn’t finished there and in the 44th minute the Swindon Town midfielder put his side in front with a Cahill-like bullet header from Ivan Franjic’s cross.
The Socceroos dominated the opening period of the second half and were presented with a fantastic opportunity to extend their lead after the tricky Robbie Kruse was fouled in the area. Up stepped skipper Mile Jedinak to take the resulting penalty and he make no mistake, making it 3-1 just before the hour mark.
James Troisi found time to add another in injury-time, thumping home at the near post following an impressive dribble by Mathew Leckie, who earlier was unlucky to see his thunderous 20-yard effort come crashing off the crossbar.
Matt Ryan had to stay alert in the Aussie goal as Kuwait proved dangerous on the counter-attack throughout the second half, but overall Australia’s superior quality shone through in a 4-1 victory.
After the match coach Ange Postecoglu praised the performance of his players as well as the impact made by the lively home support.
“The crowd was fantastic they made plenty of noise and the boys got a lift. We want everyone behind us.”
It is a great start in a tournament where Australian expectation is high. Up next for the Socceroos in Group A is Oman on January 13th in Sydney.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons