India kick off AFC Asian Cup with 0-2 loss to Australia

Qatar, (UNI) Goals from Jackson Irvine and Jordan Bos secured the points for Australia by beating India 2-0 in the AFC Asian Cup at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium here on Saturday.

The match had a historic tinge to it as Yoshimi Yamashita became the first woman to referee an AFC Asian Cup match. She was assisted by her Japanese compatriots Makoto Bozono and Naomi Teshirogi.

Australia started strongly but missed a couple of chances in the opening minutes. Aziz Behich aimed wide, while Mitch Duke spilled a header from a Craig Goodwin free-kick.

Against the run of play, India could have been in the lead in the 16th minute, but an unmarked Sunil Chhetri needed a diving header but it sailed off the post after Nikhil Poojary created an opportunity.

Five minutes later Bengaluru FC custodian Gurpreet Singh quickly recovered to stop Conor Metcalfe’s goal-bound shot after a poor clearance by himself.

The Socceroos were offensive for the rest of the first half, but just could not convert the set-pieces into goals. As many as 11 corners went begging due to India’s resilience in the box.

Australia, however, only needed five minutes into the restart to find the breakthrough – albeit with a helping hand from Gurpreet who pushed a Martin Boyle cross straight to Irvine who calmly slotted home.

India had a half chance in the 69th minute when an innocuous challenge in the middle of the pitch saw the ball spinning behind Australian custodian Mathew Ryan, only for the ball to roll away.

India’s hopes were dashed four minutes later as 2015 AFC Asian Cup champions Australia doubled their lead with two substitutes working in tandem – Ryan McGree skipping past Subhasish Bose before laying the ball for Bos to tap in from close range.

Australia will play Syria next on Thursday while India will have to rebound against Uzbekistan.

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