With Australia moving up to second place in group B following a 2-0 win against Palestine, FOX Sports Asia takes a look at all the key talking points from the fixture.
Jamie Maclaren put the Australians one up in the 17th minute and Awer Mabil put them two goals to the good just 2 minutes later, before substitute Apostolos Giannou’s goal late on ensured the holders took all three points from a must-win fixture.
5. Under pressure Socceroos come flying out of the blocks
Bottom of the table at the start of match, the Australians were looking to change their fortunes and they certainly made a promising start. Keeping possession of the ball well while restricting Palestine to half chances on the counter, the Australians seized control of the game and it showed just two minutes in, Jamie Maclaren set up to score before missing the ball completely from two yards out. Their ascendancy continued and they had another chance prior to the 10th minute mark before the pressure told and the Palestine defence finally crumbled for the opener.
4. Two goals in two minutes gives Australia unassailable lead
Having missed a sitter as early as the 2nd minute, striker Jamie Maclaren made amends in spectacular fashion in the 17th minute, heading Australia in front from a pin-point delivery by Tom Rogic, who was himself heavily criticized post their first game. The wave of Australian attacks didn’t end there, and led to another goal just two minutes later – Mabil scoring with a well-placed finish, with Oikonomidis the provider this time around, ensuring the Australian blitz ended with them two goals to the good.
3. Palestine fail to take the game to the Socceroos
After an opening day shocker against Jordan, Australia seemed to be there for the taking. Having grabbed a very respectable draw against Syria on the opening day themselves, Palestine could have taken the game to the defending champions but did not cause even the slightest of concerns to the holders. With several minnows making teams superior to them toil in this tournament, they even had inspiration but Australia were having none of it – making Palestine look every bit of their 99th position in the FIFA world rankings.
2. Champions prove their mettle but Sainsbury suspension a worry
Heavily criticized post their opening day loss to Jordan, another loss here would’ve set the alarm bells ringing for the Australians. Instead, the defending champions came roaring back to signal their intent of retaining the trophy. Having scored two first-half goals to prevent any repeat of the Jordan game before making it 3-0 late on, the Australians climbed up to second spot with a professional performance and their performance did not, at any point of time betray the huge pressure they were under coming into the game. The only blot on their copybook however, was a yellow card for defender Trent Sainsbury, meaning he will miss their crucial final group game against Syria on the 15th due to an accumulation of cautions.
1. Group B set for fascinating finale
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While group-leaders Jordan have sealed their qualification for the next stage of the competition, the remaining three teams in the group are set to go toe-to-toe for a spot in the next round. Australia move in into second spot despite their opening day loss and Palestine are tied with Syria at one point apiece. With all 3 teams mathematically as well as literally in it, match-day 3 promises a fascinating conclusion to events in group B!