Saudis knocked out by Kewell and Brosque

 

Barcelona

Australia scored three goals in four minutes in the second half to beat Saudi Arabia 4-2 yesterday, dashing the Saudis' hopes of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Saudi Arabia took a 2-1 lead in the Asian qualifying Group D match at the AAMI Stadium in Melbourne, thanks to first-half efforts from the midfielder Salem Aldawsari and striker Nassir Al Shamrani.

But Australia, the group winners, hit back in spectacular fashion with goals from Harry Kewell after 73 minutes, Alex Brosque after 75 minutes and Brett Emerton after 76. The Socceroos ended up with 15 points from six games. The Saudis, on six points, needed a victory to reach the fourth round of qualifying but their defeat meant that Oman, with eight points, went through in their stead, thanks to a 2-0 win over Thailand.

Saudi Arabia, who have been Asian champions three times, finished fatigued and demoralised on a drizzly night as they failed to progress to the World Cup finals for a second tournament in a row, having reached the four previous tournaments. Saudi Arabia played at the World Cup in the United States in 1994, in France in 1998, in Japan and Korea in 2002 and in Germany in 2006.

"If we had a little bit more courage and had stayed true to our game maybe it would have been different," the Saudi coach, the former Netherlands defender Frank Rijkaard, told reporters as he sat next to a team official who was cradling his head in his hands. "It's really sad, of course, a big blow. We were full of hope and wanted to fight for our chance and we did but we didn't succeed.

Australia initially struggled to adapt to a new attacking set-up but Brosque, who scored twice, and his strike partner Kewell combined well with the midfielders Mark Bresciano and Emerton in the second period. Bresciano was outstanding and he set up Brosque's first goal, in the 43rd minute, and Emerton's late strike with delightful through balls.

"I think in the second half we really got our stuff together," said the Australia coach, the German Holger Osieck. "We played excellent football, we played the football I really like to see.

"There was a lot of imagination, creativity... I'm very encouraged by this performance.

The Saudis started the game well and struck the first blow in the 19th minute. Aldawsari sidestepped the defender Mark Milligan and wrong-footed Bresciano before unleashing a blistering 25-metre drive that beat the goalkeeper, Fulham's Mark Schwarzer.

Playing in front of a crowd of 24,000, Australia responded through Brosque. He ran on to a deft pass from Bresciano to poke the ball beyond the Saudi goalkeeper, Waleed Ali. The Saudis went back in front in first-half stoppage time when Hassan Fallatah crossed for the unmarked striker Shamrani to convert.

Shamrani had a chance to make it 3-1 in the 72nd minute but produced a poor finish and the floodgates opened a minute later when Brosque set up Kewell, who drilled the ball low into the net. Emerton then crossed from the right to create Brosque's second goal before Bresciano put the icing on the cake by laying on the fourth goal for Emerton.

Elsewhere in the Asian qualifying groups, South Korea squeezed into the fourth round after overcoming a sluggish start to beat Kuwait 2-0 in Seoul. The Koreans remain on course for their eighth successive World Cup finals after they secured the point they needed in their final Group B game, against their 91st-ranked opponents.

Kuwait hit the post before Lee Dong-gook opened the scoring for South Korea in the 64th minute. Lee Keun-ho doubled the lead six minutes later in the new coach Choi Kang-hee's first competitive game in charge. Choi was appointed after South Korea were shocked 2-1 by Lebanon in November, a result which put their qualification for the 10-team fourth round in doubt. However, victory against Kuwait meant that they qualified for the 9 March draw as group winners.

The win also meant that Lebanon reached the fourth round as group runners-up, despite their 4-2 loss away to the United Arab Emirates. Uzbekistan finished six points clear at the top of Group C after defeating the Asian champions, Japan, 1-0 in Toyota. Both teams had already qualified for the final round of regional qualifiers but Aleksandr Shadrin's 54th-minute strike condemned Japan to a second successive defeat.

"We were in control in the first half and should have taken our chances," said the Japan coach, Alberto Zaccheroni. Uzbekistan showed real quality after the break. We've got to be ready for the final round now. We have three months to get ourselves in the best possible condition."

Shinji Okazaki went closest for Japan, hitting the bar in the first half, but a below-strength Uzbekistan side deserved their victory for their enterprise in freezing conditions.

The final whistle was greeted by jeers from supporters, who were puzzled by Zaccheroni's decision not to send on the Bolton Wanderers winger Ryo Miyaichi as a substitute, after giving the teenager his first call-up to the national team.

"The fact we lost says it all," said the Japan captain, Makoto Hasebe. "It's a tough pill to swallow but we have to put things right and step up a level in the final round of qualifying."

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?