Monday, February 02, 2015

Aussies rule Asia

Australia hosted and won the Asian Cup for the first time since joining the Asian Football Confederation in 2006. The Socceroos came from a goal down to ease 4-1 past Kuwait in their opener and hit 4 without reply against Oman in their next match, but were stunned by a single South Korean goal in their final group match to finish below the team they would meet in the final.
In group B North Korea suffered a 4-1 lashing by Saudi Arabia who were eliminated 3-1 by Uzbekistan, but It was China who topped the group, finishing above Uzbekistan whom they defeated 2-1 after falling behind in the first half. The Chinese fell 2-0 to the hosts at the next hurdle.
Palestine made their finals debut in group D where they were outclassed 4-0 by Japan and 5-1 by Jordan who were beaten to second place 1-0m by Iraq.  
In group C the United Arab Emirates hammered Qatar 4-1 and were moments away from winning the group when Iran, who had begun their campaign with a 2-0 win over Bahrain, broke the deadlock in stoppage time to win the group and send the Emiratis into a meeting with group D winners and reigning Asian champions Japan in the quarter finals. Qatar finished bottom of the group after losing 2-1 to Bahrain. The Emiratis led for most of their quarter-final match and after a 1-1 draw in extra time upset the Japanese on penalties while Iran, who were reduced to 10 men in the first half, battled Iraq to a 3-3 draw in extra time before suffering a shock exit on penalties.
In the semi finals Iraq ran out of steam and were beaten 2-0 by South Korea while Australia put 2 early goals past the UAE who overcame Iraq 3-2 to finish third. In the final Australia were on their way to a 1-0 victory when a South Korean goal in stoppage time took the match to extra time where the hosts struck the winner to lift the Asian Cup and rise to the dizzy heights of 7th place in the world football rankings.

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