Australia progress in Asian Cup with lacklustre win

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Australia progressed to the knockout stages of the 2011 Asian Cup in Qatar with a comfortable 1-0 win over Bahrain, though the performance did little to inspire the small crowd of 4000 in attendance.

The Socceroos topped the group on goal difference ahead of the Korea Republic in the final eight after both sides won their final game with seven points from three games.

With David Carney, Jason Culina and Luke Wilkshire absent through injury, the Socceroos were forced to reshuffle their pack but started well as Cahill fired in an early effort.

Matt McKay, who was deputising for Carney at left back, was badly exposed at on a number of occasions and Bahrain focused most of their attacks down that flank.

Bahrain created the best chance to open the scoring when Ismaeel Abdulatif, the four goal hero from the win over India, was played in by Abdulla Fatadi but his effort from a narrow angle came back off the post.

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Harry Kewell came close at the other end when sent through on goal but Bahrain keeper Mahmood Mansoor spread himself well to save.

After 37 minutes Australia again broke forward, this time through Brett Emerton. His ball over the top for Kewell was cut out but fell to Mile Jedinak, who scored the equaliser in the previous game against the Korea Republic. He fired a superb shot from outside the area that flew into the bottom corner of the net.

Jedinak almost had a second minutes later from an indirect free kick but this time Mansoor was able to get down low to save. One a sour note, Brett Emerton picked up a yellow card, ruling him out of the quarter final.

The first chance of the second half fell to Ismaeel but Schwarzer saved superbly from his long range effort. Australia went straight up the other end of the pitch and almost put the game out of sight as Kewell rounded Mansoor and crossed to Cahill. However the normally reliable Everton man could only head wide of goal.

It was a poor game played in tricky wet conditions and there were few clear cut chances throughout as Australia failed to hold on to the ball for large periods, whereas a better team would have made them pay.

Abulla Omr did get a sight of goal inside the final five minutes but his long range effort was straight at Schwarzer and the ‘keeper easily saved.

Bahrain pushed for an equaliser but their endeavour was to no avail and they join India in exiting the competition at the group stages.


Australia:
Mark Schwarzer (gk), Jade North, Lucas Neill (capt), Sasa Ognenovski, Matt McKay, Carl Valeri, Mile Jedinak, Brett Holman, Brett Emerton, Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell.

Bahrain: Mahmood Mansoor (gk), Abdulla Marzooqi, Ebrahim Meshkhas, Hamad Rakea, Salman Isa (capt), Abdulla Fatadi, Mahmood Abdulrahman, Abulla Omar, Abdulwahab Ali, Ismaeel Abdulatif, Jaycee John.

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Neil Sherwin
Neil has covered the Perth Glory and the Hyundai A-League for five years and is one of Western Australia's most knowledgeable football journalists.