AFC U-16 Championship: Australia up and running with Iraq win

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Australia picked up their first points at the 2018 AFC U-16 Championship on Tuesday after beating ten-man Iraq 2-1 in Group D.

In a keenly-contested encounter at the UM Arena Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, there were no goals in the opening 45 but a pivotal moment came just before the break when Iraq centre-back Ali Kadhim slide in and caught Tristan Hammond with a reckless challenge.

Already on a yellow, Kadhim left the referee with no other option but to send him off for a second bookable offence to leave his side having to play the entire second half a man down.

Ali Kadhim saw red right on the stroke of halftime.

The numerical difference eventually took its toll on the Iraqis as Australia finally broke the deadlock in the 67th minute.

Finding space inside the area, Hammond did well to hold up play briefly before floating an inch-perfect pass to find Luke Duzel, who proceeded to lash a first-time volley past Mohammed Hasan.

Seven minutes later, a second goal arrived for the Australians following a brilliant move, which saw Duzel produce an exquisite reverse pass with the outside of his foot to complete a one-two with Noah Botic, who advance on goal before finishing into the far corner.

Iraq did pull one back with ten minutes remaining when Abdulrazzaq Qasim emphatically converted from the penalty spot, after Ali Jasim had been tripped inside the box by Jaiden Kucharski.

Nonetheless, Australia were able to hold out for the win and firmly keep alive their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.

AUSTRALIA: Adam Pavlesic, Jaiden Kucharski (Thomas Lambiris 90+3โ€™), Daniel Walsh, Jordan Courtney-Perkins, Adam Leombruno, Ryan Teague, Birkan Kadir, Tristan Hammond, Luke Duzel, Joshua Varga (Joseph Roddy 62โ€™), Noah Botic.ย 

IRAQ: Mohammed Hasan, Mustafa Najm, Hussein Jasim, Ali Kadhim, Murtadha Mohammed, Hussein Khalid, Abdulrazzaq Qasim, Yaseen Akram (Abdullah Zeyad 66โ€™), Ameer Hasan, Ali Jasim, Hussein Sadeq (Hasem Mohammed 46โ€™).