Burns stars as Australia drub Thailand 3-1 (1 November 2006)

By Chetan Kulkarni

KOLKATA: A brace from Nathan Burns enabled 10-man Australia down Thailand 3-1 in their second Group B game in the AFC Youth Championship here at the Salt Lake stadium on Wednesday.

The victory threw the group wide open with China, who will play UAE in another match later today, Australia and Thailand have three points each. UAE have yet to open their account.

Burns scored in the 26th minute and stoppage time while Dario Vidosic added their third goal from the spot in the 32nd minute. Thailand pulled one back through Suttinun Phukhom seven minutes later.

Australia received a blow in the 22nd minute when their ace hitman Bruce Djite was given the marching orders for kicking Thai midfielder Kriangkrai Pimrat after losing ball possession.

The suspension of Djite, who took the field for the first time in this tournament after serving his one-match suspension in the opener against China, did not affect the Australians and four minutes later Nathan Burns brought smiles back to his side with the opener.

Burns beat the offside trap and ran past a diving Thai goalkeeper Chatchai Bootprom for an easy tap in.

US-born Djite was suspended for the first match of this event after picking up two yellow cards in the qualifiers against Turkmenistan and Sri Lanka.

The Aussies doubled their advantage in the 32nd minute when Dario Vidosic scored from the spot. They were awarded the penalty after Thai defender Ponlawat Wangkahad handled the ball inside the area.

Seven minutes later, Thailand's Suttinun Phukhom reduced the arrears also from the spot after Australian defender Peter Eleftherakis brought down Thai midfielder Anaween Jujeen inside the box.

Thailand, however, started very positively with some meaningful moves initially. In the 11th minute, Thailand striker Wisoot Bunpeng missed a golden opportunity when he had only goalkeeper Tando Velaphi to beat but his shot was parried away by an alert custodian.

The Thais increased the pressure after the restart with Bunpeng, Teerasil Dangda, Jujeen and Jakkaphan Kaewprom with some brilliant moves but the Aussie defence worked hard to earn three points.

Australia coach Ange Postecoglou praised his players' spirit. "They did not panic and drop their shoulders after the redcard and a goal almost immediately helped them maintain the tempo," he said.

"We scored two fantastic goals and I am happy that we won today. We played 70 minutes with 10 players but still the players showed superb fighting spirit."

Thailand coach Payong Khunnan said: "It was a bad day today that we could not take advantage of the situation and our strikers' lacked finishing skills."

Australia will take on the UAE while Thailand will clash against China in the crucial final match on November 3.