Tue, Jul 17, 2007 - Page 20 News List

Aussies, Iraq make knockout stage


Skipper Mark Viduka scored two crucial second-half goals to give Australia a crucial 4-0 win over Thailand to stay alive in the Asian Cup yesterday.

Viduka scored twice in three minutes to give the Australians victory after they absorbed waves of Thai attacks to set up a quarter-final with Japan in Hanoi on Saturday.

Defender Michael Beauchamp and substitute Harry Kewell scored the Socceroos' other goals.

The score didn't reflect the immense pressure Australia had to endure in a tense second half before Viduka gave his team a lifeline into the last eight.

In a crackling atmosphere, the Socceroos took the game to the Thais ealy on.

Australia took the lead when Luke Wilkshire's deep free kick was headed home by defender Michael Beauchamp in the 21st minute.

But the Thais had some great chances, with striker Kiatisak Senamuang just missing connecting as the ball whizzed across the face of Australia's goal and forward Sutee Suksomkit's shot almost curling in past goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

Thailand put the Socceroos under intense pressure early in the second half with Milligan saving Australia with some brave clearances after Sukha put in some teasing crosses from the right.

Harry Kewell came on for the Australians replacing John Aloisi on the hour.

Pipat Thonkanya, who scored both Thailand's goals in the previous win over Oman, was put in on goal but fired straight at Schwarzer in another let-off in the 64th minute.

Tim Cahill came on for the Aussies with 17 minutes left replacing Mark Bresciano.

The Australians had immense problems getting the ball away from their goal as Thailand continued to press for the equalizer.

Just when it looked as though the Socceroos would crack, Cahill chased a wide ball, passed to Viduka, who held off Niweat Siriwong, beat off Tawan Sripan and fired home off Sukha for a crucial 2-0 lead.

Viduka scored again three minutes later, heading home a cross.

Kewell finished off the scoring when he raced on to Cahill's pass and beat the 'keeper to make it 4-0.

In yesterday's other group A match Iraq secured a fourth successive Asian Cup quarter-finals appearance after a dire 0-0 draw with Oman that was enough to ensure top spot in the group.

Oman needed to win to stand any chance of making the knock-out stages but they proved bereft of inspiration in a lackluster affair.

Oman almost snatched a late winner but Younis al-Mushaifri's header from a corner sailed just over.

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