Australia scored three
goals in four minutes in a stunning second-half burst to beat
Saudi Arabia 4-2 on Wednesday to dash their hopes of qualifying
for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The Saudis took a 2-1 lead in the Group D clash at the AAMI
stadium with first-half efforts from midfielder Salem Aldawsari
and striker Nassir Al Shamrani.
The group winners then hit back in spectacular fashion with
goals from Harry Kewell (73 minutes), Alex Brosque (75) and
Brett Emerton (76) as they ended up with 15 points from six
The Saudis, on six points, needed victory to reach the
fourth round of Asian qualifying but defeat meant Oman (eight
points) went through thanks to a 2-0 win over Thailand on
The triple Asian champions finished fatigued and demoralised
on a drizzly night as they failed to progress to the World Cup
finals for the second edition running, having gone through to
the four previous tournaments from 1994-2006.
"If we had a little bit more courage and had stayed true to
our game maybe it would have been different," gloomy Saudi coach
Frank Rijkaard told reporters as he sat next to a team official
who was cradling his head in his hands.
"It's really sad of course, a big blow. We were full of hope
and wanted to fight for our chance and we did but we didn't
succeed," the Dutchman added.
Australia initially struggled to adapt to a new attacking
set-up but two-goal Brosque and strike partner Kewell combined
well with midfield generals Mark Bresciano and Emerton in the
Bresciano was outstanding and he set up Brosque's first goal
in the 43rd minute and Emerton's late strike with two delightful
"I think in the second half we really got our stuff
together. We played excellent football, we played the football I
really like to see," said coach Holger Osieck.
"There was a lot of imagination, creativity... I'm very
encouraged by this performance," the German added.
The Saudis started the game well and struck the first blow
in the 19th minute.
Aldawsari sidestepped defender Mark Milligan and
wrong-footed Bresciano before unleashing a blistering 25-metre
drive that beat keeper Mark Schwarzer.
Playing in front of a crowd of 24,000, Australia responded
through Brosque who ran on to a deft pass from Bresciano to poke
the ball beyond goalkeeper Waleed Ali.
The Saudis went back in front in first-half stoppage-time
when Hassan Fallatah crossed for unmarked striker Al Shamrani to
Al Shamrani had a chance to make it 3-1 in the 72nd minute
but produced a poor finish.
The floodgates opened a minute later as Brosque set up
Kewell who drilled the ball low into the net.
Emerton then crossed from the right to create Brosque's
second goal before Bresciano put the icing on the cake by laying
on the fourth goal for Emerton.
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