Aussies battle back, Robson gets winning Thai start

SINGAPORE, Nov 14, 2009 (AFP) - Ten-man Australia battled back to beat Oman while former England captain Bryan Robson got his first win in a competitive match as Thailand coach on Saturday in crucial 2011 Asian Cup qualifiers.

Australia stayed top of Group B after seeing off Oman 2-1 in Muscat.

Khalifa Ayil Al-Naufli put the Omanis ahead in the 16th minute, but Luke Wilkshire levelled two minutes from half-time before Brett Emerton scored the winner seven minutes from the final whistle.

Australia have seven points from four matches, one in front of Kuwait who saw off Indonesia 2-1 and who have played a game less.

The two top teams in each group qualify for the finals in Qatar in 2011.

Oman, who meet five-time world champions Brazil in a prestige friendly on Tuesday, were awarded a penalty when Imad Al Hosni was fouled inside the area by Rhys Williams who was red-carded.

Al-Naufli had his spot-kick saved by goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, but the striker was quickest to the rebound to score at the second attempt.

Australia levelled when Mark Bresciano set up Wilkshire. Fulham goalkeeper Schwarzer pulled off three fine saves in the second half before Australia grabbed a late winner with Emerton beating Ali Al Habsi in the Oman goal.

Thailand beat Singapore 3-1 to give Robson a winning competitive start as coach.

Thailand midfielder Therdsak Chaiman (2L) takes a freekick against the Singapore team during the AFC Asian Cup 2011 qualifying Group E in Singapore on November 14, 2009 (AFP photo)

An 11th minute penalty by Sutee Suksomkit, who recently joined Australian A-League outfit Melbourne Victory, opened the scoring in a one-sided first half before Thardsak Chaiman made it 2-0 with 15 minutes left.

Sutee bagged his second soon after before Mustafic Fahrudin pulled one back for the home team from the penalty spot as the game wound down.

The victory moved Thailand into second place in Group E, two points behind Iran who edged Jordan 1-0 in Tehran.

"It's great to win my first competitive game but my job is to qualify and I need to succeed in that and only then will I be happy," said Robson.

Former Middlesbrough and West Brom manager Robson, who took over from Peter Reid in September, has instilled a cohesion in Thailand in the short time he has been there and they ran Singapore ragged.

Their movement was excellent and bodes well for the return leg in Bangkok on Wednesday, where Raddy Avramovic knows his side must win to keep alive any hopes they have of making their first Asian Cup.

Singapore have three points from three games.

Elsewhere, Uzbekistan proved too good for Malaysia in Tashkent, winning 3-1 with Asian player of the year Server Djeparov among those finding the target.

The Uzbekis have now won their opening two games in Group C, which only comprises three teams after India, who were drawn in the group, automatically qualified for the finals by winning the AFC Challenge Cup last year.

Malaysia have no points from two games while the UAE are second with three points.

In Hanoi, Vietnam conceded a goal in stoppage to crash 1-0 to Group D leaders Syria.

Vietnam desperately needed to pick up points with just two on the board from three games following a demoralising 6-1 defeat in China last time out.

China then saw off Lebanon 2-0 in Beirut with Yu Hai and Qu Bo on target.

The game was stopped for 10 minutes as Lebanese fans protested the second goal.

The Chinese are second in the group, three points behind Syria who have a perfect nine points from three matches.

Source: AFP

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