Even though there are tougher challenges that lie ahead, Australia managed to answer a few burning questions regarding their quality in the Asian Cup when they produced a glorious performance against Palestine to defeat them 3-0 in Dubai in front of 12,000 fans.
Australia’s Match Against Palestine
Australia did the bulk of the damage during the first half of the match with a sensational one-two punch. The opening goal was scored during the 18th minute when a beautiful cross from Chris Ikonomidis managed to find Jamie Maclaren among two defenders. Maclaren provided a header to score a goal into the far corner of the post to produce his first goal for Australia.
Two minutes after the first goal, the two youngest players in the match combined to produce the second goal for Australia when Ikonomidis provided a stunning cross to Awer Mabil who managed to place the ball in the net at point-blank range at the back post. The third goal from Australia occurred during the 90th minute when Apostolos Giannou provided another header into the net to further extend the lead, ensuring a well-rounded performance from the Socceroos.
Graham Arnold on His Team’s Performance
Graham Arnold was highly impressed with his attacking players that assisted in propelling his team to a phenomenal victory. He was also extremely happy with the performance from Maclaren who managed to break his goal-scoring duck when it came to international level. “I like Jamie as a football player,” Arnold stated. “His capabilities in the box is always sensational. He merely needs a bit of confidence and belief.”
With two goals within the first half of the match, the Socceroos starting feeling more relaxed as they began kicking the ball around quite comfortably while searching for more goal scoring opportunities. Things definitely turned around for Australia following their devastating defeat at the hands of Jordan in the opening match.
During the second half, Australia was content with their lead and did everything in their power to preserve it. They managed to control the tempo in midfield and were rarely tested defensively. Credit can also be given to Graham Arnold who made a total of three changes to his starting squad following the defeat from Jordan. The manager for Australia was quite pleased with his changes, including Rhyan Grant, Jackson Irvine, and Ikonomidis. All three players managed to impress the Australian manager during their match against Palestine.
Asian Cup Standings for Australia
The result against Palestine now places Australia in the second position in Group B where they still need to take on Syria in their final group stage match. With Jordan currently on 6 points in Group B, Australia is unable to take the top spot. Even if Australia manages to lose against Syria, they still have a chance to advance to the Round of 16.
A second position finish will mean that Australia will play against Oman, who the Socceroos beat 5-0 in a warm-up match for the Asian Cup tournament.