Australia's World Cup campaign off to a great start
Australia’s 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign got off to the perfect start, with a convincing 3-0 win over Qatar at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne. A blistering first half by Australia set up the win, in front over almost 51,000 fans, with goals by Joshua Kennedy (10’), Tim Cahill (17’) and Mark Bresciano (33’).
Australia-s 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign got off to the perfect start, with a convincing 3-0 win over Qatar at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne.
A blistering first half by Australia set up the win, in front over almost 51,000 fans, with goals by Joshua Kennedy (10-), Tim Cahill (17-) and Mark Bresciano (33-).
Pim Verbeek-s decision to bring his overseas stars back was justified, as they simply ran rings around a shell-shocked Qatar, whose belief sunk after Kennedy headed Australia ahead in the 10th minute.
The second half saw Australia see the effects of the travel set in and while Qatar played better and had several chances they never really offered a great threat on Mark Schwarzer-s goal.
Verbeek-s reign as Socceroos coach could not have got off to a better start and was very satisfied after the match, although he also acknowledged it was only going to get tougher from here on.
Knowing that tiredness from the hectic travel would play a role later in the game, Verbeek knew he had to get goals early and against the norm went for a two-pronged attack, with the next generation of strikers in Scott McDonald and Kennedy taking centre stage.
The players responded magnificently, the two strikers combining in the 4th minute, to set up Cahill, whose shot was blocked away by Qatari keeper Saqr.
Australia-s aerial dominance was already evident, when in the 10th minute, Kennedy managed to out-jump two Qatari defenders to head home Brett Emerton-s cross from the right. The confidence grew and any neutral would have thought it was Australia that had been training together for a month and not just the few days they actually had in Melbourne.
The movement had the Qataris chasing shadows; the passing was crisp and precise on most occasions; while the crossing both by Emerton and David Carney always had the Qatari defence on the back foot.
It was no surprise then that Australia-s lead was doubled after 17 minutes, Cahill magnificently guiding a Luke Wilkshire corner into a surprisingly empty net.
Kennedy almost had a second on 28 minutes, but was denied by the outstretched foot of Saqr, but the inevitable third was not long in coming.
McDonald brilliantly held the ball up on the right edge of the penalty box, saw the late run of Bresciano into the heart of the box and placed his pass perfectly for the Palermo midfielder, who buried his shot past Saqr.
Cahill should have made it four minutes later, getting his head to another Emerton cross, but this time Saqr was equal to the task.
With such a commanding lead and the effects of the travel starting to set in once in the changing room at the break, it was inevitable that the second half was always going to prove tougher for the home side.
And while Qatar, defended further up the pitch and showed more composure on the ball, Australia-s defence, which included Queensland Roar-s Craig Moore, was looking solid.
It was still Australia creating the best chances, with Wilkshire-s powerful drive saved by Saqr; Cahill went close with another header; Bresciano was also denied by a good save from Saqr; while Kennedy saw a header go inches over the crossbar.
Qatar-s best chance came in the 58th minute, when Mesaad was left with a relatively simple finish from close range, but contrived to send his shot into the side-netting.
The only sour note on the night was an ankle injury to Kennedy, which saw him substituted by John Aloisi.
Aloisi, disappointed not to be starting, should have scored late in the match, when he was end of a terrific 50-metre ball from captain Lucas Neill, but he scuffed his shot and the ball went weakly to a relieved Saqr.
But the damage had already been done in the first half and sent an ominous warning to its other two rivals in the group China and Iraq, who are expected to put up much more of a fight then Qatar did tonight.
Australia 3 (Joshua Kennedy 10-, Tim Cahill 17-, Mark Bresciano 33-) Qatar 0
Australia line-up: Mark Schwarzer (gk); Lucas Neill, Craig Moore (Brett Holman 78-), Tim Cahill (Carl Valeri 66-), Jason Culina, Brett Emerton, Luke Wilkshire, Joshua Kennedy (John Aloisi 70-), Scott McDonald, David Carney, Mark Bresciano Subs from: Ante Covic (gk); Jacob Burns, Jade North, Archie Thompson
Cautions: Moore (65-)