Australia routs India 4-0 in Asian Cup
Tim Cahill scored two goals Monday to help Australia beat India 4-0 in Group C of the Asian Cup and gets its campaign in Asia's premier tournament off to strong start.
The Australians went on the attack from the start and were rewarded in the 11th minute when a cross from Brett Emerton was swept in by Everton midfielder Cahill. Australia added two more goals in the first half, including a precise shot from Harry Kewell from just outside the area. Brett Holman also scored in first-half injury time.
The Aussies could have had two or three more in the first half, but were denied by several athletic saves by India goalkeeper Subrata Paul, the best of which was a reflex stop from Cahill, who had another effort ruled out for offside.
Cahill finally added his second with a header in the 65th from Luke Wilkshire's cross, giving him 24 goals in 48 international appearances. He celebrated with a call me sign, a bid to encourage people to contribute money to flood relief efforts in Queensland, Australia.
India, which hadn't threatened the entire match, had its only real chance in the dying minutes of the match when striker Sunil Chhetri got past the Australian defense, but he was unable to beat Australian keeper Mark Schwarzer.
''From my point of view, it was a good start and in particular in the first half we played very well,'' Australian coach Holger Osieck said. ''Of course, it's always a problem to break down the opponents' defense. But I think we showed a lot of tactical discipline on our attacking side and we scored three goals which was definitely encouraging. All in all, it gives us confidence for the next games to come.''
Australia's second appearance at the Asian Cup got off to a much better start than its 2007 debut when it drew with Oman on the way to a disappointing quarterfinal exit, losing on penalties to Japan. Australia is the top-ranked team in Asia and comes in to the tournament as the pre-tournament favorite, as it did in 2007.
Kewell said the team had learned from its experience in the last tournament and wasn't taking any team - even the 142nd-ranked India team - lightly.
''This was a great start,'' Kewell said. ''In 2007, it was our first time in the competition and we may have gotten carried away. Sooner or later, we were out. We've come this time fully prepared and we know what to expect.''
Cahill said it was ''fantastic'' to net two goals but that the win was more important because it gives the team a boost ahead of a ''very hard game'' against South Korea on Jan. 14.
''A lot of people expect me to score. I want to deliver coming off my Premier League season so it's nice to keep the goals going and be clinical because India is a great team,'' he said. ''It help us because it's a win. It builds confidence and biggest thing for us is it shows we could do better.''
For India, keeping the scoreline somewhat respectable was a victory in itself. The team's coach Bob Houghton said just playing in this tournament was a step forward for a team that has been devastated by injuries and suspension, and has had to travel to Portugal and Dubai just to train because of a lack of facilities at home.
''We played a very good team today. It's not by fortune that Australia is the No. 1 team in Asia,'' Houghton said. ''If you look at all those boys who played all those games in the Premier League ... they are playing a team that was just emerging at this level.
''It was a difficult game for us and the boys stuck to their tasks very well. I'm pleased with our boys and they will learn by playing against that quality.''
India: Subrata Paul, Anwar, N.P. Pradeep (Merajuddin Wadoo, 61), Sunil Chhetri, Deepak Kumar Mandal, Surkumar Singh, Mohammed Rafi (Abhishek Yadav, 63), Gouramangi Singh, Climax Lawrence, Syed Rahim Nabi, Steven Dias (Renedy Singh, 78).
Australia: Mark Schwarzer, Lucas Neill, David Carney, Tim Cahill, Jason Culina, Sasa Ognenovski, Brett Emerton (Nathan Burns, 76), Luke Wilkshire, Harry Kewell (Scott Mcdonald, 71), Brett Holman, Mile Jedinak (Matt Mckay 62).