Asian Cup 2019

Socceroos bounce back to knock Palestine out

Apostolos Giannou (right) rising to nod in Australia's third goal in the Socceroos' 3-0 Asian Cup Group B win over Palestine yesterday.
Apostolos Giannou (right) rising to nod in Australia's third goal in the Socceroos' 3-0 Asian Cup Group B win over Palestine yesterday.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

DUBAI • Australia's Jamie Maclaren believes he is ready for more goals after scoring for the first time for his country in the 3-0 Asian Cup win over Palestine in Dubai yesterday.

"It's been a long time coming. I've stayed on my path and kept working. I know I'm a goal-scorer. It was going to come one way or another," the striker, who made his 10th appearance for the Socceroos, said on Fox Sports.

Defending champions Australia recovered from their shock 1-0 opener defeat by Jordan and moved within sight of the last 16.

Goals from Maclaren, Awer Mabil and Apostolos Giannou put the much-improved Socceroos second in Group B with one game to go.

The Aussies will now go into Tuesday's final group game against Syria with renewed confidence, while the Jordanians are already through to the last 16 after beating Syria 2-0 on Thursday.

Australia coach Graham Arnold dropped the under-performing Massimo Luongo and Robbie Kruse in favour of Jackson Irvine and Chris Ikonomidis, who impressed as substitutes against Jordan.

It was a far more dynamic team that opened their account on 18 minutes, when Tom Rogic picked out Maclaren who scored with a glancing header.

Two minutes later, gold-clad Australia were 2-0 up as Ikonomidis lofted a ball to the far post where Mabil sneaked in unmarked for a first-time finish.

Substitute Giannou then nodded in a deserving third for the Socceroos in the final minute.

"Many people say I can't head the ball and today I showed them," Maclaren added.

"We knew what we had to do today, win the game. Straight from the start we scored two early goals and that really settles us."

The win undoubtedly pleased Arnold, who was always confident that his players would bounce back from a defeat he considered an anomaly.

The result leaves Australia poised to take second place in the group, barring a defeat by Syria.

With Jordan now on six points, Australia can no longer top the group as head-to-head record is used to rank teams on level points.

Even with a loss to Syria, Australia could still qualify for the round of 16 as one of the four best third-placed teams.

In Group C, China beat the Philippines 3-0 through goals from Wu Lei (two) and Yu Dabao to go top of the group on six points.



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 12, 2019, with the headline 'Socceroos bounce back to knock Palestine out'. Print Edition | Subscribe