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Socceroos defeat Palestine 3-0, Sainsbury suspended

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Roar Guru
11th January, 2019
20
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The Socceroos are still alive and kicking in the 2019 Asian Cup after a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Palestine in the UAE.

Australia has moved to second spot in Group B, behind leaders Jordan, and in position to advance to the knockout stages after defeating Palestine.

Pressure was on the Socceroos after their lackluster shock 1-0 loss to Jordan in the tournament opener on Sunday.

Graham Arnold made three changes for this match, one enforced by injury, but they had the desired effect.

Chris Ikonomidis, in for Robbie Kruse on the left, was dynamic and lively and set up Awer Mabil’s goal.

Jackson Irvine, replacing Massimo Luongo in central midfield, was impressive while Rhyan Grant took over from Josh Risdon at right back.

Jamie Maclaren got the ball rolling for the green and gold in the 18th minute. His delightful header, from a beautiful cross from Tom Rogic, put the Socceroos 1-0 ahead and was his first goal for his country.

Two minutes later Ikonomidis delivered a pinpoint cross for Mabil. The winger tapped the ball home and Australia was in control with a two-goal buffer.

In the second half, just one minute from full-time, Apostolos Giannou got his name on the scoresheet with the Socceroos’ third and final goal.

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The striker made a great run and headed home from a short corner to put the icing on the cake.

The victory was just desserts for the Socceroos who started the match with much more intent and focus than against Jordan.

They enjoyed 68 per cent possession, but were much more direct with the ball and had 16 attempts, six of which were on target, compared to just three from Palestine.

Arnold does now have a selection dilemma on his hands though with Trent Sainsbury picking up his second yellow card of the Asian Cup.

It means the defender will now miss the important final fixture against Syria.

Arnold will have to decide to replace Sainsbury with Matt Jurman, or upset the balance of his team and move skipper Mark Milligan back into defence for the third and vital Group B game.