Asian Cup: Australia beats Oman 4-0 to reach knockout stage
SYDNEY (AP) — Australia qualified for the Asian Cup quarterfinals with a 4-0 win over Oman on Tuesday, ensuring the hosts advanced along with two-time champion South Korea from Group A.
The Socceroos set up the win with goals from Matt McKay and Robbie Kruse and a penalty from Mark Milligan in the first half. Tomi Juric added a fourth after the break, Australia’s eighth goal in two games after a 4-1 win over Kuwait in the tournament opener.
South Korea and Australia will meet on Saturday in Brisbane, where top spot in the group is at stake. Oman plays Kuwait, both out contention, will play in Newcastle.
Oman had proved to be a troublesome opponent for Australia since their first meeting at the Asian Cup in 2007 — where only an injury-time equalizer by Tim Cahill salvaged a point for the Socceroos. The Oman lineup started brightly again, with Raed Saleh’s fierce volley from 25 yards acrobatically saved by Mat Ryan after three minutes.
Australia made the first breakthrough, though, when Massimo Luongo’s corner kick was headed toward goal by defender Trent Sainsbury, and Matt McKay bundled the ball past goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi in the 27th minute.
Winger Robbie Kruse added another three minutes later after he took a Luongo chipped pass in his stride and slid a shot under the advancing Al Habsi.
Oman was lucky not to be reduced to 10 men after midfielder Ahmed Mubarak lunged at Australia stand-in captain Tim Cahill, with Japanese referee Ryuji Sato opting to only issue a yellow card.
Australia made it 3-0 in first-half injury time when Kruse crossed to the far post for Milligan to volley powerfully home, only for referee Sato to disallow the goal and instead give Australia a penalty for a foul on Cahill during the same play.
Milligan scored from the resulting penalty to the delight of the 50,276-strong crowd — the highest attendance of the tournament.
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou withdrew Cahill and Luongo in the 51st minute, keeping his promise to rotate players during the tournament and bringing in striker Juric and veteran Mark Bresciano.
Australia played at a slower tempo after the substitutions, but Juric added a fourth in the 70th after receiving Leckie’s curling cross and volleying his shot past Al Habsi.
Juric had two more good chances, but hit the post and had another shot brilliantly saved by Al Habsi from a header.
Postecoglou made three changes to the team that opened the Asian Cup, with Mark Milligan replacing injured captain Mile Jedinak.
West Bromwich Albion defender Jason Davidson came in for Aziz Behich at left back, while McKay also got his first start of the tournament for attacking midfielder James Troisi .