Substitute James Troisi scored the winning goal in front of a full house at Stadium Australia (ANZ Stadium) to win the 2015 Asian Cup for Australia. Australia now have their most prestigious piece of silverware in the sport.
By Javier Yap – @javiervanderyap
The two sides met in their final Group A match on January 17 at the Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane, but the end result was reversed this time around. Ange Postecoglou’s side also finished a step better than their result 4 years ago when they were defeated 0-1 by Japan in Qatar.
Uli Stelike’s men came into the match without conceding a goal, but that record was ended when Massimo Luongo netted for Australia in the 44th minute, 20 yards from the goal. League One leaders, Swindon Town Football Club had turned down a £2m bid for their midfielder earlier in the week from an unnamed Turkish club and made the right choice doing so, as the skipper’s value would have increased now after his performance at the Asian Cup.
Australia’s all time top scorer (39), Tim Cahill created the home nation’s first chance of the match in the 24th minute but was unable to place his effort into the back of the net.
South Korea’s Son Heung-Min was his country’s main man in the first half, creating two scares for Postecoglou’s defence. The Bayer Leverkusen forward fired a volley just wide of the post in the 36th minute and came close again a minute later, with his shot deflected by the winning goal scorer, Massimo Luongo.
Australia’s defence were tested again two minutes before they netted the match’s first goal when South Korea were awarded a free kick just outside the box after Jason Davidson was booked for tugging on a defender. Luckily for the Socceroos, Ki Sung-Yueng’s chip travelled directly into the arms of Matt Ryan.
Australia held off South Korea well in the second half and seemed to have the title in their hands as full time was nearing, but the Taeguk Warriors hit back in stoppage time. Sure enough, it was “Sonaldo” who slipped the ball narrowly past the host nation’s defenders and keeper with his left foot.
The last-minute equaliser suddenly increased the pressure on Australia to regain momentum. The Australian supporters were fuming when the match was sent into 30 minutes of extra time. However, they were on their feet celebrating one minute before the end of the first half of extra time when number 14 substitute, James Troisi comfortably placed Tomi Juric’s ball past Jung Sung-Ryong.
Coach Ange Postecoglou had this to say after the thrilling match:
“I’m not good for words right now, I’m just super proud of everyone, the players the staff, the whole organisation, I couldn’t be happier.”
The Socceroos finish the tournament as the top scorers, netting 14 times in six games while Korea Republic conceded the least goals. Australia are also the only nation to hold both the Club championship of Asia (Western Sydney Wanderers FC) and national championship of Asia at the same time.