Australia ease past India to win Asian Cup opener

Socceroos secure 2-0 victory in Qatar thanks to goals from Jackson Irvine and Jordan Bos

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Second-half goals from Jackson Irvine and substitute Jordan Bos earned Australia a comfortable 2-0 victory over India in their Asian Cup opener on Saturday.

After a cagey opening half, Australia opened the scoring in the 50th minute when Indian keeper Gurpreet Singh failed to deal with a cross, with his tame effort to palm it away falling to Irvine in the box who pounced to finish.

Australia killed the game off in the 73rd minute when Riley McGree dribbled into the box and cut a pass back to Bos to score seconds after coming on.

While Australia dominated on the field, it was India's fans who made the majority of the noise among the crowd of 36,253 at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

High-pitched cheers rang around the stadium to greet India's increasing number of defensive clearances as the pressure mounted during the Group B match. And that was amplified for India's rare attacks on goal, such as a flying header from Sunil Chhetri in the first half that went wide.

But Australia turned the screws from that point and controlled possession as India rarely managed to venture out of their own half.

With India pegged back, Connor Metcalfe saw one of his efforts swatted aside by Singh and Mitchell Duke had a close-range shot blocked by Sandesh Jhingan, while Martin Boyle skied a volley from the edge of the six-yard box.

But any hopes India could hang on for a point were ended by first by Irvine and then Jordan Bos as the Socceroos deservedly took all three points. Uzbekistan take on Syria in the second Group B match later on Saturday.

“It was amazing,” said Bos. “I came on, drifted the back post and it just felt to me, my first touch. It was a great moment and it’s a great start to the campaign for me.

“We had just had to get this game out of the way and get three points. It’s hard to score against teams that drop so low. Hopefully getting the result leads to a good campaign for us.

“We’ll review the game and look to Syria over the next couple of days. We’re here to win it.

“Everyone has a chance to break into the first XI. No one’s spot is set in stone – you need to make the most of your opportunities, and Arnie can take it from there.”

Despite the comprehensive defeat – India managed just one shot on target over the 90 minutes, enjoying just 29 per cent of the possession – defender Sandesh Jhingan insisted there was still positives to take from the match.

“We are disappointed,” he said. “But when you come up against a World Cup side it’s always going to be difficult. There are a lot of things to learn from the game.

“Some of the things we are proud of as well. I want to thank all the fans who came to support us. We’ve got two more group games to progress so we’ll focus on that now.

“Eight years ago we were 173-175 [in the Fifa rankings]. Now we’re consecutively in the Asian Cup and doing well in the Fifa rankings. It’s not just the team, it’s the whole country.

“The fans are a massive part of it as we continue to grow. We stick together, that’s what Indians are known for, and we aim for the sky.”

Updated: January 13, 2024, 2:50 PM