Australia booked a place in the knockout stage of the 2007 Asian Cup for the first time ever after they thrashed Thailand 4 – 0 in their Group A encounter at Bangkok’s Rajamangala Stadium on Monday.
|Australia's John Aloisi moves past Thailand's skipper Tawan Sripan|
The Socceroos took the half-time lead with Michael Beauchamp’s header from inside the box. Mark Viduka doubled the advantage ten minutes from time with a low shot from close range before grabbing his second three minutes later.
Harry Kewell’s shot rounded off the Australians’ priceless victory in stoppage time.
Both sides showed attacking intentions in the opening exchanges and the Socceroos, who looked the better side with stronger and taller players, gradually took control of the game.
Beauchamp opened the Aussies’ score line in the 21st minute when he headed Luke Wilkshire’s free-kick from midfield past goalkeeper Kosin Hathairatanakul.
The host side replied two minutes later when Suchao Nutnum’s fierce long-range shot flew straight towards goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.
Thailand needed at least a draw to advance to the quarterfinals and so they pushed forwards for the equalizer and dominated the second half. However, Australia’s Coach, Graham Arnold, threw Liverpool midfielder Kewell in to threaten the home side with a powerful header over the bar in the 68th minute.
Datsakorn Thonglao tried his luck from outside the box soon after but the Middlesbrough’s goalkeeper Schwarzer was able to hold onto the shot.
With 10 minutes to go, Viduka killed off the game, using his chest to calmly controlled Tim Cahill’s cross from the left, he then held off the Thai defense and fired a shot past Kosin.
Three minutes later Cahill and Viduka combined again, the Everton man crossed from the left this time and allowed the Middlesbrough’s striker to header home a goal.
Kewell cemented the scoring line in the dying minutes when he slid one home in a one-on-one with goalkeeper Kosin.