Inching closer to Brazil
Australia’s old guard fired up their hopes of reaching the 2014 World Cup finals with a thumping 4-0 defeat of Jordan on Tuesday. Veterans Mark Bresciano, Tim Cahill and skipper Lucas Neill all scored to steer the Socceroos into the automatic second qualifying spot in Asia Group B.
Victory over last-placed Iraq next Tuesday in Sydney will ensure Australia avoid the play-off lottery for a ticket to Brazil. The 30-somethings hit the first two goals but it was youngster Robbie Kruse who created both chances from the right wing before sealing the points with an eye-catching strike of his own.
Neill joined the party with the fourth after 84 minutes when, from a corner, he nodded home his first international goal in 91 appearances to add to celebrations among the 43,785 crowd.
The opening spell had however been tense until ‘keeper Amer Shafia denied Brett Holman from inside the box after 14 minutes.
Kruse had danced clear of the defence when the referee played the advantage and overruled the linesman’s flag for a foul. Jordan froze momentarily, allowing Bresciano to claim his 13th goal for his country. The winger was the danger man and Khalil Bani Ateyah was booked for bringing down the rampant Kruse before Cahill had a penalty shout turned down when he went over in the box after 26 minutes.
Jordan enjoyed plenty of possession but lacked a cutting edge. Ahmed Hayel picked up a loose ball and fired a fine shot just wide after 27 minutes. As half-time approached, midfielder Holman was bowled over 25 yards out by Anas Bani Yaseen. Bresciano stepped up again and Shafia did well to hold the low, swerving shot.
But the second half was nearly all one-way traffic and when Cahill powerfully headed home Kruse’s cross after 60 minutes, the result looked secure. Jordan, who started the game tied with Australia in third place on seven points, tried to push forward but only further exposed their defence. With another flowing breakaway, Kruse cut in from the right, nutmegged a defender inside the box and drove home after 76 minutes.
South Korea had a first-half own goal to thank on Tuesday as they edged Uzbekistan 1-0 for a vital win which could be enough to put them through to their eighth successive World Cup next year. Defender Akmal Shorakhmedov was the fall guy when he headed Kim Young-Gwon’s vicious cross into his own net just before half-time, but South Korea showed enough attacking endeavour to deserve their win at Seoul World Cup Stadium. The Taeguk Warriors, World Cup semifinalists in 2002, open up a three-point lead over Uzbekistan at the top of a tight Group A and will go through if Lebanon beat third-placed Iran later.