Qantas Under 23's suffer loss to Saudi's
The Qantas Under 23's have squandered a half-time lead, eventually falling 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in Damman this morning. Australia was reduced to 10-men after captain Adrian Leijer was sent off in the 58th minute.
The Qantas Under 23's have squandered a half-time lead, eventually falling 2-1 to Saudi Arabia in Damman this morning.
Newcastle Jets striker Mark Bridge had given the 23's the lead right on half time, but two goals in six minutes in the second half sealed a decisive win for Saudi, who are almost certain to go through to the next phase.
In what was a further bad night for the Australians, coach Rob Baan will be without at least three players for the next game against Iran. Leijer was sent off in the 58th minute, which also resulted in the equalising goal from the penalty spot, while Ben Griffin and Ruben Zadkovich received their 2nd yellow cards of the competition in the match.
To make it even bleaker trip, they have relegated to third position on the table after Iran won 3-0 against Jordan, setting up make or break match in Adelaide in two weeks time.
The match got off to a bright start for Australia, when in the first minute, Jets midfielder Stuart Musialik, playing his first match in the second phase, hit a stinging shot that forced the Saudi keeper to tip over the bar.
However from then on it was Saudi that did most of the attacking. In the 34th minute, Danny Vukovic made a great save to deny the Saudi's and then against the run of play, Australia managed to score.
A minute into first half injury time, saw a switch find Zadkovich, who in turn found Kristian Sarkies deep in the box. Sarkies chipped the ball to his soon-to-be Adelaide teammate Bruce Djite, who headed down perfectly to Bridge, who made no mistake with volley.
Saudi came out attacking in the second half and wasted two glorious opportunities to level it up, before the decisive moment of the match came in the 58th minute.
With a Saudi player breaking through in the box, Leijer mistimed his tackle and took the player out, earning his yellow card of the match and subsequent marching orders. The Saudi's made no mistake from the penalty spot.
With a spring in their step, the Saudi's then went two up when a long ball played over the defence, became a foot race between a Saudi attacker and Vukovic, with the Saudi winning the ball. He dinked the ball over Vukovic and with the ball rolling towards goal, another Saudi player managed to win the race and make sure the ball went into the net.
Australia thought they had grabbed a late equaliser, when Sarkies scored from Bridge's cross, but he was ruled offside.
Saudi Arabia 2 Australia 1 (Mark Bridge 46'+)
Australian line-up: Danny Vukovic (gk), Ruben Zadkovich, Adrian Leijer, Ben Griffin (Peter Eleftherakis 60'), Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Stuart Musialik, Kristian Sarkies, Leigh Broxham (Adam D'Apuzzo 63') , Bruce Djite (Nathan Burns 80'), Mark Bridge, James Troisi. Subs nots used: Dario Vidosic, Troy Hearfield, Vince Lia, Tando Velaphi (gk)
Cautions: Leijer 8'/58', Griffin 40', Zadkovich 56', Musialik 70', Vukovic 84' Expulsions: Leijer 58'