Friday, August 23, 2019 | ePaper

Late winners as 'helter-skelter' Australia down Syria to go through

  • Print


Tom Rogic's injury-time thunderbolt settled an Asian Cup thriller on Tuesday as defending champions Australia beat Syria 3-2 to reach the last 16 and knock out their war-torn rivals.
The result meant the holders finished second in Group B behind Jordan, whose simultaneous 0-0 draw with Palestine gave the Palestinians hope of qualifying as one of the best third-placed teams.
Syria, vocally backed by thousands of their fans in Al Ain, twice fought back from a goal behind before Rogic slammed home the winner in the third minute of injury time. Injury-hit Australia, with only six outfield players on the bench, needed just a draw to go through and they got there -- but there were twists along the way.
"It was a helter-skelter game at times," said Socceroos coach Graham Arnold.
"On another night we could've scored more goals but it was a great learning process for our young players. It was a good performance just in terms of the grit and determination."
Syria looked an early threat before Australia started to get a grip on the game and Hibernian striker Jamie Maclaren flashed a header just wide.
There was drama on the half-hour when a Syrian free-kick bounced through a packed penalty area and into the net, but the goal was ruled out for a foul on Mark Milligan.
But Australia were getting close and Awer Mabil, after seeing one raking shot blocked, unleashed a fabulous effort which curled into the top corner four minutes before half-time.
However, the lead lasted just two minutes as Mouaiad Alajaan's cross picked out birthday boy Omar Khrbin, turning 25 on Tuesday, who saw his header saved by Brighton's Mathew Ryan but then gobbled up the rebound.
On 54 minutes, there was controversy when Chris Ikonomidis's shot was hooked away by Omar Al Midani -- but the ball was judged to have crossed the line by the additional assistant referee, who was surrounded by Syrian players.
The incident silenced the massed ranks of Syrian fans but there was uproar around the stadium shortly afterwards when their team vehemently claimed a penalty for a Milligan handball. Australia looked firmly in control and they could have had a third goal when substitute Apostolos Giannou saw a low shot cannon off the base of the upright.
But Mexican referee Cesar Ramos threw Syria a lifeline when he gave them a penalty after Omar Al Soma went down in the box -- and the striker stroked them level once more with 10 minutes to go.
It looked like Syria would escape with a vital point before Celtic's Rogic, playing the tournament with a broken hand, belted Australia's third from distance.
"Fitness was the critical factor," shrugged Syria's interim coach Fajr Ibrahim, who took charge when Bernd Stange was sacked following their defeat by Jordan. "There wasn't a big difference apart from the fitness of the Australian team. They were superior."
Meanwhile in Dubai, Jordan were held to a goalless draw by Palestine in a fiery clash to preserve their unbeaten record and progress as Group B winners.
Twice quarter-finalists, in 2004 and 2011, Jordan stunned holders Australia in their opening game before beating Syria 2-0.
But they found plucky Palestine a tougher nut to crack in Abu Dhabi.
Abdallatif Al Bahdari's header gave Jordan a scare on the hour-mark of a match that was not one for football purists.
Jordan went close when Ahmad Ersan's long-range blast was blocked by Palestine goalkeeper Rami Hamada before the game petered out with both sides content to take a draw.

More News For this Category

Bangladesh face Bhutan in SAFF U-15 Championship today

Defending champions Bangladesh U-15 national football team will take on Bhutan in their opening match of the SAFF U-15 Championship scheduled to be held today (Friday) at Kalyani Stadium in

Neymar future remains up in air as PSG reject Madrid offer

Neymar future remains up in air as PSG reject Madrid offer

Neymar remains no closer to getting his desired move away from Paris Saint-Germain amid reports Thursday the French club have rejected an offer from Real Madrid of 100 million euros

Messi back in training, in contention to face Betis

Messi back in training, in contention to face Betis

Lionel Messi gave Barcelona a timely boost on Wednesday by returning to training with the rest of the squad after a calf injury.Messi trained alone in the morning before joining

Olympiakos, Dinamo Zagreb win Champs League playoff 1st legs

Olympiakos, Dinamo Zagreb win Champs League playoff 1st legs

AP, Bern :Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb took big steps toward returning to the Champions League group stage with convincing wins in the first leg of their playoff-round games on Wednesday.Olympiakos

On-loan Nketiah fires Leeds back to top of Championship

On-loan Nketiah fires Leeds back to top of Championship

On-loan striker Eddie Nketiah came off the bench to score a 81st-minute winner as Leeds beat Brentford 1-0 on Wednesday to go back to the top of the English Championship.The

Booters' residential training camp begins today

All the national footballers are set to back into business as the residential training camp of the national team against Afghanistan for joint qualifiers of Qatar World Cup and AFC

"Pukki Party" in full flow as striker becomes unlikely star

AP, Dhaka :Teemu Pukki hung back toward the corner of the penalty area. The ball was about to be delivered into the middle of the box, and it was as

Castellanos scores 10th goal, NYCFC top Crew 1-0

Castellanos scores 10th goal, NYCFC top Crew 1-0

AP, New York :Valentín Castellanos scored in the 36th minute, Sean Johnson got his seventh shutout of the season and New York City FC (NYCFC) beat the Columbus Crew 1-0

Messi 'made me better player', says Ronaldo

Messi 'made me better player', says Ronaldo

AFP, Lisbon :Cristiano Ronaldo admitted on Wednesday his long-time rivalry with Lionel Messi has made him "a better player" and that he enjoys a "healthy" rivalry with the Argentine great.However,

Henry's desire to succeed as manager undimmed by Monaco misery

Henry's desire to succeed as manager undimmed by Monaco misery

France football legend Thierry Henry is keen for another chance to prove he can be a successful manager despite his unhappy brief tenure at Ligue 1 side Monaco.The 42-year-old --