Australia have overcome an early goal to secure a 4-1 victory over Kuwait in the first game of the AFC Asian Cup in Melbourne on Friday night.
The home nation had not won the opening game of the Asian cup since 1968, but a resilient Australian side would not be denied in 2015. Tim Cahill shone again with a goal to even the scores in the first half after going behind early against the run of play. Again, Cahill inspired his side to dig in and revert back to the original game plan.
Massimo Luongo, who set up the first goal for Cahill, scored the second for his country before the end of the half with a juicy header, to have the home side go into the break 1-goal up.
Luongo earned high praise for his performance as the gamble to play the young, inexperienced midfielder paid off for coach Ange Postecoglou.
“He is one of the guys we have blooded in the last 14 months,” Postecoglou said.
“He is one of the few that we have worked with, persevered with, put him into camps, put him into tough situations.”
Captaining the Socceroos for the first time in Australia, Mile Jedinak demonstrated great composure to convert a spot kick awarded for a trip on Robbie Kruse in the 61st minute and the lead was pushed out to two goals.
Australia peppered the posts at both ends and could have scored more minus the efforts of Kuwaiti goalkeeper Hameed Youssef.
Matty Ryan demonstrated his agility to deny an Fahad Al Ansari drive on target, touching it onto the bar at pace.
Man of the match Luongo was replaced in the 84th minute the roar of an appreciative AAMI Park crowd by A-League golden-boot contender Travis Burns.
“It was amazing … I couldn’t imagine a better day,” the Swindon Town midfielder said.
James Troisi completed an impressive first match for the hosts with an injury time goal to ice a delicious cake for the Socceroos.
“There was a big difference between the national team of Australia and national team of Kuwait, especially from the physical aspect,” commented Kuwaiti coach Nabil Maaloul after the match.
Ange Postecoglou took many positives from the win, but will have to reassess his plans with an injury to key midfielder and captain Mile Jedinak.
“I am pleased with the result, it was a great reward for the players’ efforts,” he said.
“We conceded a goal we should never have conceded. There was really good energy and intent in the tempo we played. …we got the goals we deserved.”
Australia will head to Sydney to play Oman on Tuesday in the second match of the tournament.