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Australia overcome wasteful start to edge past Oman

Australia have edged past Oman 1-0 in an Asian Cup qualifier in Melbourne tonight. Australia: 1 (Tim Cahill '74) Oman: 0

Venue: Etihad Stadium

Crowd: 20,595

Early in the contest, Harry Kewell danced his way down the left flank, leaving the Omani defenders in his wake but his low cross was knocked out of play.

Kewell had started brightly and was showing Australia's intent to attack and try to pinch an early goal.

The Socceroos were peppering the Omani goals in the first twenty minutes with chances falling to Josh Kennedy and Tim Cahill.

But Oman were unlucky not to be on the scoresheet themselves when Fawzi Basheer's cross snuck in to hit the front post and almost ricocheted off Mark Schwarzer.

Moments later, the ball fell to Hassan Rabea who blasted it wide under no immediate pressure.

It was a wide open first half with end to end football the order of the night but neither side could hit the back of the net.

On the death of half-time, Kewell took it on himself to get the Socceroos off the mark by taking a speculative shot from 35 yards that whistled past the post beating Oman goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi.

Immediately after the break, Australia was unlucky to go ahead when a Kewell corner floated over the back to captain Lucas Neill but his left-foot shot from close range managed to bounce of Al-Habsi's head and then was cleared to safety.

Another chance went by when Kennedy won a header in the area that fell to Cahill but he could not swivel his body around enough to get his shot on target.

Oman were holding sway despite many chances coming to the Australians, keeping out forward advances and again almost scored but Schwarerz managed to full-stretch save above his head.

Finally, Australia got the breakthrough in the 74th minute when Scott Chipperfield cut inside the box and put a low cross in the path of Kennedy who missed a back heel but the ball rolled onto the back post where recent goal hero Tim Cahill slid in to break the deadlock.

The match ended on the that scoreline and opened up the Australian's account in their group of Asian qualifying.

Andrew Slevison
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Andrew Slevison

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