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Football – Asian Cup: Australia delight home fans with dramatic win

Australia captain Mile Jedinak lifts the Asian Cup trophy as the Socceroos win the title for the first time in three editions since joining the AFC in 2006. Photos: AFCAsianCup.com.

Australia captain Mile Jedinak lifts the Asian Cup trophy as the Socceroos win the title for the first time in three editions since joining the AFC in 2006. Photos: AFCAsianCup.com.

January 31, 2015: James Troisi scored at the end of the first period of extra-time to give Australia their first-ever AFC Asian Cup title with a dramatic 2-1 victory over Korea Republic in the final at Stadium Australia on Saturday night.

 

Troisi’s 105th-minute goal sealed the win after Massimo Luongo had put the Socceroos in front in the 44th minute, only for Bayer Leverkusen winger Son Heung-min to take the game into extra-time with a stoppage-time equaliser.

 

Played in front of a sell-out crowd of 76,385, Australia secured their first AFC Asian Cup since joining the Asian Football Confederation in 2006, notably coming four years after losing in the 2011 final to a late extra-time winner against Japan. Korea’s wait for a third AFC Asian Cup goes on, as Uli Stielike’s team were unable to break the 55-year hoodoo in the country’s first appearance in the final since 1988.

 

Stielike made one change to the line-up that saw off Iraq in the semi-finals, calling up Jang Hyun-soo to partner Ki Sung-yueng in the middle to allow Park Joo-ho to sit in front of Kim Jin-soo on the left, while Ivan Franjic was passed fit for an unchanged Socceroos.

 

Korea Republic centre-back Kwak Tae-hwi rises high to attack a cross.

Korea Republic centre-back Kwak Tae-hwi rises high to attack a cross against Australia in the final.

The game opened at a frantic pace and, by the end of the half, the Socceroos had taken the lead against the run of play after Korea had spurned several opportunities to put themselves on the scoreboard.

 

Son caused the greatest threat to the home side’s goal, volleying just wide in the 37th minute after impressive work down the left from Park and Kim. Less than a minute later, the Bayer Leverkusen man was denied what looked a certain goal by Luongo’s outstretched foot.

 

Tim Cahill had earlier forced Kim Jin-hyeon into action in the Korean goal, the Cerezo Osaka keeper diving to his left to push the former Everton man’s effort around the post after holding off the challenge of Kwak Tae-hwi, who had sent his own header just wide mere seconds later at the other end.

 

With barely a minute left in the half, Luongo struck to put the Socceroos in front. Trent Sainsbury’s ball into the Swindon Town man’s feet allowed Luongo to turn and beat Ki before hitting a low, unstoppable right-foot effort beyond Kim Jin-hyeon.

 

Korea were forced to push for the equaliser as the second half wore on and a disciplined Australian defence kept them at bay until, a minute into stoppage time, Son latched on to Ki’s pass to fire beyond Mat Ryan and send the game into extra-time.

 

But Troisi put the Australians back in front in the 105th minute when he was first to react after Kim Jin-hyeon pushed Tomi Juric’s centre back into play, and the Belgium-based midfielder fired the ball high into the net to seal the win and see Australia crowned champions of Asia.

 

Source: WSG / AFC Asian Cup (www.afcasiancup.com); Editing by SportAsia

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