Australia advance to next phase of World Cup qualifiers
The Socceroos have advanced to the next stage of World Cup qualifying after beating Qatar 3-1 at the Al Sadd Club Stadium in Doha, early Sunday morning.
Doha: The Socceroos have advanced to the next stage of World Cup qualifying after beating Qatar 3-1 at the Al Sadd Club Stadium in Doha, early Sunday morning.
Two goals from Brett Emerton and a single goal from Harry Kewell saw Australia move three points clear of both Qatar and Iraq, with the latter earlier winning 2-1 in China. That result has set up a cliffhanger in Dubai next week between Iraq and Qatar, to decide the second team to advance.
On a night where Emerton marked his 66th appearance for Australia, which jumped him into fourth place on the all-time list for A-international appearances, he showed he can still score a goal or two with two opportunist strikes either side of half time.
The first goal came after 18 minutes, when Brett Holman set Mark Bresciano free into the box on the left; his cross was perfect for Kewell in the middle, but he completely missed his shot only for Emerton to come in at the back post and slot home.
He added a second goal on 56 minutes when he raced onto a neat lobbed pass by Holman, to take one touch and then slot home. Kewell, who had an earlier strike ruled out, made it 3-0 on 75 minutes, when he pounced on an error by a Qatar defender and slammed home from close range.
Qatar got a late consolation goal in the 90th minute, when Khalfan pounced on a parry down by Schwarzer.
While it wasn-t vintage football by Australia, it was a very professional performance and they showed their class when it mattered.
Australia may have had a half time lead, but they had Schwarzer to thank for keeping it that way, as he consistently foiled the Qatar attack led superbly by Sebastian Quintana and Fabio Cesar.
The pair provided a constant threat with their pace and skill on the ball, giving the Australian defence the run around at times. Fabio was also highly dangerous at set pieces with several close calls on goal.
It only took two minutes for Schwarzer to be called into action, when he diverted a Wesam 25-metre free kick away for a corner. He then had to make finger-tip saves to deny Quintana (29-), Fabio (38-).
In between Emerton scored Australia-s first and always looked like they had the Qatari-s measure, save for the few moments provided by Quintana and Fabio.
Coach Pim Verbeek was obviously relieved and delighted to get the three points and ensure qualification prior to the last game.
"We had a very good start; the first 20-25 minutes; we played very well and scored a good goal and were completely in control," he said. "Then we started to lose the ball a little bit too easy and give simple free kicks and corner kicks away and put ourselves under a little bit of pressure.
"The second half we did very well and scored (goal) at a good moment of course. It-s a pity we gave the goal away, but for us we have qualified and that-s the most important thing."
In the earlier group match between China and Iraq in Tianjin, Iraq came from a goal down to win 2-1 thus setting up a tantalizing clash with Qatar next week in Dubai.
Qatar 1 Australia 3 (Brett Emerton 18-/56-, Harry Kewell 75-
Australian line-up: Mark Schwarzer (gk); Michael Beauchamp, Jade North, Jason Culina, Carl Valeri, Brett Emerton, Luke Wilkshire, Harry Kewell (Bruce Djite 85-), David Carney, Brett Holman, Mark Bresciano Subs from: Chris Coyne, Scott McDonald, Michael Petkovic, Mile Jedinak, Nick Carle, Rod Vargas
Cautions: Carney (26-), Valeri (52-), Schwarzer (74-), Wilkshire (88-)
Referee: Gi Young Lee (Korea Republic)