Fancied duo begin with victories
© AFP

There were no surprises in Group C openers of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011, as Australia defeated India 4-0 before ten-man Korea Republic edged Bahrain 2-1 in Doha. The Socceroos and the Taeguk Warriors are now jointly on top of their group ahead of their meeting on Friday.

The match
Korea Republic 2–1 Bahrain, Al Gharafa Stadium, Doha
Koo Ja-Cheol 40, 52 (Korea Republic); Faouzi Aaish 86 pen (Bahrain)

In a rematch of the sides’ group stage encounter four years ago, Korea Republic got their revenge for the 2-1 defeat in Jakarta, with exactly the same scoreline against Bahrain on Monday.

After nervy opening exchanges, the two-time Asian champions slowly began to take control of the game with captain Park Ji-Sung and right winger Lee Chung-Yong pulling the strings. And it was midfielder Koo Ja-Cheol who opened the scoring five minutes before half-time, when the Jeju United sensation collected a neat pass from Ki Sung-Yueng before firing a low shot that went in off a tackle from Abdulla Marzooqi.

Koo then scored his second seven minutes into the second half. Right-back Cha Du-Ri tried his luck with a rasping drive from 25 yards that Mansoor Mahmood managed to parry away, but Koo latched onto the rebound to double his side’s lead. However, the South Koreans were reduced to ten men with seven minutes remaining, when Kwak Tae-Hwi received his marching orders for a foul on Abdulla Al Dakeel inside the area. Faouzi Aaish stepped in to convert the resulting penalty but it was too little, too late for the Bahrainis as Korea Republic held on for the victory.

The surprise
India 0–4 Australia, Al Sadd Stadium, Doha
Tim Cahill 11, 65, Harry Kewell 25, Brett Holman 45+2 (Australia)

Given the sluggish start to their maiden AFC Asian Cup campaign in 2007, it was rather surprising that Australia emerged victorious in such devastating fashion. The Socceroos took a three-goal lead through Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and Brett Holman before half-time, with Brett Emerton delivering two inch-perfect crosses from the right.

Despite already trailing by the seemingly unassailable margin, India managed to keep themselves from falling further behind thanks to a series of brilliant saves by Paul Subrata. But any hopes of an Indian comeback was dashed five minutes after the hour-mark, when Cahill rose high to head home his second of the evening from an inviting free-kick from Luke Wilkshire.

Sunil Chhetri then could have pulled one back for the Indians with five minutes remaining, but the diminutive striker was denied by a timely intervention from Sasa Ognenovski.

The star
Tim Cahill, Australia
Having scored the last-gasp equaliser in a 1-1 draw with Oman four years ago, the Everton star took his Asian Cup tally to three goals with a brace against India tonight. The Socceroos midfielder celebrated his second goal by mimicking a phone call to encourage donations for Australia's flood crisis.

The stat
28-7 – The number of Australia’s attempts to score against India in their Group C opener on Monday. In the one-sided affair, the Socceroos poured no fewer than 28 shots – nine on target - against the Indians, who could only direct two efforts on target out of seven attempts on goal.

What they said
“It was very important to get a good start, to find our rhythm and to get a performance together. From my point of view, it was a good game. We played technically very well in the first half. We scored four goals, which is very positive and encouraging. It should give us confidence for the next games to come,” Holger Osieck, Australia coach

"I had expected Bahrain to come out defensively so I told my players to play with short passes in midfield while creating space on the flanks, and it worked as planned. Koo has very good skills and understanding of the game and I knew he would perform well. Our attackers switched their positions throughout the game, and all in all it was a good performance from the team," Cho Kwang-Rae, Korea Republic coach