Australia swat aside India to launch Asian Cup title bid

Doha (AFP) – Australia cruised to a 2-0 victory in their Asian Cup opener against India on Saturday, Jackson Irvine and Jordan Bos scoring from close range to launch their title bid.

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In front of a deafeningly pro-Indian crowd at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Australia made hard work of the first half, squandering a few decent chances while the underdogs defended raggedly and eyed opportunities to pounce on the break.

But Irvine opened the scoring just after the restart, the moustachioed midfielder driving home from 10 yards after India goalkeeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu came for a cross only to flap it back into the danger zone.

The 2015 Asian Cup champions were in full control from then on, as Indian legs tired and Australia coach Graham Arnold took advantage of the depth in his squad.

Bos doubled Australia’s advantage shortly after the 70th minute.

A matter of seconds after coming off the bench, the 21-year-old slotted home from six yards after fellow substitute Riley McGree fizzed the ball hard and low across the box from the byline.

Bos went close with a few minutes remaining when unmarked at the left-hand post, but dragged his shot wide.

A mostly unremarkable match did offer one moment of regional football history, as Japan’s Yoshimi Yamashita became the first woman to referee at an Asian Cup.

Indian fans among the official attendance of 36,253 kept up their fine voice throughout, even as their team’s chances of a goal faded with the desert sun.

In a host country with a massive Indian population, Igor Stimac’s side can be sure of a rowdy following for all of their games in Group B.

Next up they face Uzbekistan on Thursday, when Australia take on Syria.

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