Australia progresses to knockout round, Palestine pulls off thrilling draw

Australia progresses to knockout round, Palestine pulls off thrilling draw

QLNews
By QLNews

Jackson Irvine scored the only goal as Australia ground out a 1-0 win over Syria in a Group B game of the 2023 AFC Asian Cup at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium on Thursday.

Australia topped their group with their second win in a row and confirmed their place in the knockout rounds with a game to spare.

Uzbekistan, who defeated India 3-0 in the other Group B game, also boosted their chances of making it to the pre-quarterfinals. They are second in the group with four points and favourites to progress.

Meanwhile, Palestine pulled off a stunning result in Group C by drawing the UAE 1-1 in a thrilling game at the Al Janoub Stadium. Thousands of delirious fans chanted support as Palestine matched the ten-man UAE move-for-move and took a deserved draw.  

Irvine’s 59th minute goal, his second of the tournament, saw Graham Arnold’s Australia ensure a spot in the knockout rounds.

Irvine’s close-range finish tipped the scales in Australia’s favour almost an hour into a game of limited scoring opportunities, even after the Syrians had given the Socceroos an early fright.

Ibrahim Hesar received possession inside the penalty area and, as he held off the attention of Harry Souttar, rolled the ball for Pablo Sabbag to send a low left foot shot that beat Maty Ryan, only to rattle the base of the post and bounce to safety.

Irvine threatened with 10 minutes left in the half, fractionally mistiming his run at the far post and just failing to make contact as Gethin Jones flicked Martin Boyle’s corner across the face of goal.

Syrian attacks were rare in the first half, but when Hector Cuper’s side ventured forward, Australia were opened up, with Amar Ramadan pulling his shot into the side netting with six minutes left in the half. Sabbag shot over from 20 yards a minute before the interval.

Boyle’s persistence finally delivered the opener 14 minutes into the second half as the Hibernian winger slipped past Ramadan before finding Irvine and, after turning in the box, the midfielder poked his shot under Ahmad Madanieh to score.

Australia should avoid defeat against Uzbekistan on Tuesday to confirm the Group B top spot while Syria will have to beat India to stand a chance of advancing. 

Meanwhile, first half goals from Abbosbek Fayzullayev, Igor Sergeyev and Sherzod Nasrullayev secured Uzbekistan the win against India.

Both sides rang in the changes, but it was Srecko Katanec’s Uzbekistan who impressed, taking the lead in the fourth through Fayzullayev.

The  CSKA Moscow midfielder orchestrated the move, intercepting possession deep in midfield before exchanging passes with Otabek Shukurov to open up the Indian defence before he rose highest to nod home past goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh.

India pushed forward, but the move proved costly for Igor Stimac’s side as they conceded again in the 18th minute with Fayzullayev pouncing on Rahul Beke’s mistake before slipping the ball into the box, with Akash Mishra’s clearance rattling the woodwork before the ball landed kindly for Sergeyev to thump home. 

Nasrullayev made it 3-0 for Uzbekistan in added time when he coolly tapped home after his initial effort rebounded off the post.  

The onus was on India to find their way back, and they came close to scoring in the 48th with Rahul KP hitting the crossbar before Chhetri failed to find the target off the rebound. 

India poured bodies forward and were denied again in the 72nd by a resolute Utkir Yusupov, who produced a fingertip save to deny Beke’s long-ranged effort as Uzbekistan saw out the win.

India will need three points against Syria on Tuesday to stand a chance of advancing as one of the four best third-placed finishers while a win for Uzbekistan against Australia will see them finishing top of the group. 

UAE, who wanted a win to ensure smooth passage to the second round, played an attacking game from the start. They kept pressing into the rival box and the Palestinians were put on the back foot.

UAE’s pressure tactics saw results when they went ahead in the 23rd minute. An Ali Saleh cross found Sultan Adil at the right place and his precision header put his side ahead.

UAE’s Khalifa Al Hammadi received a red card in the 37th minute for obstructing a goal-scoring opportunity, but the resultant penalty, taken by Palestine’s Tamer Seyam, was saved.

Once UAE was reduced to 10 men, Palestine grew in confidence and they began to attack in waves. One such move ended in the UAE’s Bader Nasser scoring a headed own goal.

The Palestinians, buoyed by the raucous crowd, had many more attempts at goal, but were unlucky not to convert any of them.

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