Thailand out but 4-0 score flatters Australia (July 17, 2007)



TOR CHITTINAND


It was heartbreak for Thailand last night when they were knocked out of the Asian Cup, losing 4-0 to Australia after putting up a gallant fight at a nearly full Rajamangala National Stadium.


The scoreline did not really reflect the game, with Australia scoring three of their goals _ two from Mark Viduka _ in the last 10 minutes after holding off a spirited Thai assault for most of the second half.


Australia now advance to the quarter-finals and will play Japan in Hanoi on Saturday. Group leaders Iraq will take on Vietnam in Bangkok the same day following a dull 0-0 draw with Oman.


After suffering from the heat in their earlier matches Australia could not have wished for better conditions last night in a match played in relatively cool weather with steady rain.


Despite leaving Harry Kewell and Tim Cahill on the bench, Australia settled down quite well while Thailand's strike force of Kiatisak Senamuang and Teerathep Winothai did a lot of running but found it tough to break through.


However, Thailand put the pressure on with three consecutive corners, but the Australian defence held firm despite good efforts from Thai captain Tawan Sripan and Sutee Suksomkit.


Australia scored the vital opening goal in the 20th minute when Michael Beauchamp headed home a long ball thanks to some slack marking.


Thailand nearly equalized immediately when both Teerathep and Kiatisak just missed a cross by Suree Sukha.


Having gone in front, Australia appeared to grow in confidence and began to enjoy a lot of possession


Thailand almost grabbed an equaliser just before half-time but Sutee's free-kick went wide and the teams went in at the interval with the Socceroos 1-0 up.


Thailand came out in determined fashion in the second half and put pressure on the Australian defence for long spells, but could not convert their dominance into goals.


The hosts made their first substitution when Datsakorn Thonglao came on for Sutee Suksomkit in the 53rd minute and two minutes later, Jetsada Jitsawad replaced Kiatprawut Saiwaew.


Two-goal hero from the Oman game, Pipat Tonkanya, then came on for Teerathep who appeared to be injured while Australia replaced John Aloisi with Harry Kewell.


Thailand continued to put on the pressure and Pipat had a golden chance to equalise but his shot lacked power and was saved by Mark Schwarzer.


The Australian defence were beginning to look tired as Thailand pressed for the equaliser, but sadly for Thailand the goal came at the other end.


In the 80th minute, Tim Cahill won possession and passed to Viduka who did well to slot the ball home.


Australia's second goal visibly knocked the stuffing out of Thailand and three minutes later Viduka nodded in his second goal, again from a cross by Cahill.


Thailand's heads dropped and Harry Kewell finished off the scoring in the last minute to make it 4-0.
Iraq go for goal against Oman.

Thailand's Tawan Sripan misses out on a tackle.


It had been a brave performance by Thailand and they played some good football, particularly in the second half.


Thailand coach Chanvit Phalajivin said that although he was disappointed at the result he was proud the way his team had played.


"We had several chances but the ball did not roll for us and we didn't have any luck," he said.


However he praised Australia's performance. "Australia were just too strong for us," he said. "We gave it our best but the conditions were cooler and you could see Australia enjoying it."


He thanked the crowd for their sterling support. "It was just one of those days when things didn't work out," he said.


Australian coach Graham Arnold, who has been under fire, said he was delighted with his team's performance.


"We were tested at the back, they are a good side, but we managed to score some goals which is what it is about," he said.

STANDINGS P W D L GF GA PTS
Iraq 3 1 2 0 4 2 4
Australia 3 1 1 1 6 4 4
Thailand 3 1 1 1 3 5 4
Oman 3 0 2 1 1 3 2