Socceroos open with emphatic win

Asian Cup hosts Australia sounded a warning to their rivals with a resounding 4-1 victory over Kuwait in the tournament's opening match in Melbourne.

Fadhel Hussain opened the scoring for Kuwait in the eighth minute, but replies from Tim Cahill, Massimo Luongo,  Mile Jedinak and James Troisi were too much for the battling visitors.

Hussain's goal came from a corner as the Australia failed to mark him and he headed in past Matt Ryan from the six yard line without a challenge from the Socceroos defence.  Following the goal and the distasteful booing by fans as the Kuwait players celebrated with prayers, Australia was subdued, seemingly taken aback to find themselves a goal down so early in the match.

In the 20th minute Australia seemed to find their fervour again when a Jedinak free kick almost saw them draw level, however, Kuwait seemed happy to settle in and defend their lead. 

It was Cahill who brought Australia level, Luongo broke free of the Kuwait defence and sent a cross in for a wide open Cahill who nudged it past Hameed with ease. The goal fired up the team and the crowd and the pressure on Kuwait was immense as Australia pushed hard for a lead. 

Just before half time it was Luongo who gifted Australia with a second goal by way of a glorious header. Franjic was able to get around his defender and pass to Luongo who rose to the occasion and headed in past Hameed.

Robbie Kruse had the first chance of the second half with a blinding run, but he was denied by some brave tackling from Hussain. Australia kept piling on the pressure and the harried Kuwait finally cracked when Kruse was brought down in the box.

Mile Jedinak had no problems with the resulting penalty defeating Hameed by slotting it into the bottom right corner to take the score to 3-1 in the 62nd minute.

Minutes later Yousef's excellent shot and Ryan's diving save of it showed that Kuwait were not giving up. Again in the the 71st minute Kuwait had an excellent chance when  Alebrahim's stunning half-volleyed shot forced Ryan to stretch and tip it over. 

Both teams were not content to accept the scoreline, and crowds in Melbourne were treated to a thrilling passage of play as both sides tried to find another goal. In the 83rd minute Australia looked sure to score with a barrage of shots, first from Burns then Troisi, but Hameed kept them out and kept the scoreline at 3-1.

Australia's persistence and doggedness in searching for a fourth paid off in the 93rd minute, when Troisi found himself with the ball just four yards out and slotted it in to round out an excellent performance from the hosts.

Australia’s manful recovery from the early Kuwait goal will give them plenty of confidence for the rest of the tournament, while Kuwait will need to shake off the defeat if they have any hope of getting out of the group.

Stats:

Goals: 8' Fadhel (KUW);  33' Cahill (AUS); 44' Luongo (AUS); '61 – pen Jedinak (AUS); 93' Troisi (AUS)
Cards: 18' Fadhel (KUW); 46' Zayed (KUW)

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