Australia beats Saudi 3-1 in World Cup qualifier

Australia beats Saudi 3-1 in World Cup qualifier

Published Sep. 7, 2011 1:38 a.m. ET

Striker Josh Kennedy netted twice to continue his goal-scoring streak as Australia beat Saudi Arabia 3-1 on Tuesday to continue its winning start to Asian qualifying for the 2014 World Cup.

The lanky, Japan-based Kennedy, who also scored the late winner in Australia's comeback 2-1 win over Thailand last Friday, gave the Socceroos the lead with a header in the 40th minute and doubled the margin with a shot in the 56th.

The Saudis scored in the 66th when Nasser al-Shamrani swooped on the rebound after goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer stopped his penalty attempt.

But Luke Wilkshire restored the two-goal buffer with a 77th-minute penalty, ensuring Australia tops Group D with six points from two matches.


The Australians are three points clear of Thailand, which had 3-0 win over Oman in Bangkok. The next matches are on Oct. 11.

Socceroos skipper Lucas Neill told Australian television the away win was a very professional response from his team after heavy criticism in the wake of the Thailand match last week in Brisbane.

''I thought we were very convincing and stuck to a good game plan,'' Neill said. ''Three goals away from home against arguably the second favorites in the group. Now we're in a strong, strong position to finish on top.''

The Saudis had the best chances early, with Schwarzer saving what could have been an own goal from Carl Valeri before Nawaf al-Abid fired wide in the 16th minute.

Ahmed Ateef drilled a shot at Schwarzer in the 28th before the Australians settled and started to control possession.