THE OLYROOS have claimed top spot of Group C and a quarter finals berth at the AFC U-22 Championship following a 1-0 victory over I.R. Iran at Royal Police Stadium in Muscat last night.
The only goal of the match came from Peter Skapetis who latched on to a loose ball in the 56th minute and fired home after Iranian goalkeeper Ali Reza Beiranvand could only parry defender Curtis Good’s header from a corner.
Olyroos Head Coach Aurelio Vidmar made a large number of changes to the starting line-up from the team that defeated Kuwait on Sunday, to give all players some international tournament experience.
In a tight first half with chances at a premium, Olyroos striker Adam Taggart, had the first chance on goal inside the first 10 minutes as his free-kick from just outside the penalty area went narrowly over the crossbar.
Mehdi Shiri then went close for Iran with a deflected effort that Olyroos goalkeeper Aaron Lennox pushed out, and a swerving long range effort that was just off target.
Taggart had another chance in the 23rd minute but his curling shot drifted wide of the goal.
The Olyroos came out stronger in the second half and in the first minute after the restart Andrew Hoole made a penetrating run down the right side was followed by a shot from the right winger that needed to be punched clear by an alert Beiranvand at his near post.
Olyroos Captain Curtis Good was then forced to leave the field for treatment to a nasty gash above his eye following a clash of heads, and with the big centre-back off the field, Iran had their best chance to open the scoring as Kaveh Rezaei slipped in Benham Barzay for a low shot from inside the penalty area that was parried wide by Lennox.
When Curtis Good returned to the field with a heavily bandaged forehead, it was then that the Olyroos took the lead.
Awarded a free-kick in a central area in the 55th minute, Hoole skimmed a low shot off that was pushed wide by the Iranian custodian.
From the resulting corner, Good connected with a header that Beiranvand could only parry as far as the waiting Skapetis, who hooked the ball into an empty net.
In a bid to seek an equaliser, Iran brought on strikers Arsalan Motahhari and Seyed Miri and it was the former who had his side’s best chance with a low shot into the arms of a sprawling Lennox following good work from Rezaei.
The Olyroos dominated possession for the remainder of the second half, although Motahhari had time for another effort at the death but this time his shot from the edge of the penalty area went wide of Lennox’s right-hand post.
With a lengthy seven minutes of time added on due to Good’s extended treatment, Stefan Mauk could have put the game to bed, but a good save from Beiranvand prevented the second half substitute from doubling the advantage.
Vidmar was very satisfied with the efforts of his team post-match.
“We knew it would be a hard and physical game but I’m happy with the performance of my players” said Vidmar. “We need to get a bit more composure, especially through the midfield, as the game got very stretched at times. But overall, I’m very pleased.”
“Every team has the same amount of players, our philosophy is to give everyone an opportunity. We wanted everyone to each get a full game, and we’ve achieved that so far.
“There’s no first team or second team, I’m just trying to build one team."
In the other group C match Japan and Kuwait played out a 0-0 draw which confirmed the Olyroos position at the top of the group.
The Olyroos will play their final Group C match against Japan on Thursday evening and will meet the runner-up of Group D in the Quarter-Finals on Sunday evening.
I.R. Iran 0
Olyroos 1 (Peter Skapetis 56’)
Royal Oman Police Stadium, Muscat, OMAN
I.R. Iran line-up: 1.ALI REZA SAFARBEIRANVAND (gk), 2.VAHID ESMAEILIBEIGI, 3.SHAHRYAR SHIRVAND (C), 5.MOHAMMAD AMIN HAJMOHAMMADI, 6.MORTEZA POURALIGANJI, 9.KAVEH REZAEI, 13.AHMAD ZENDEHROOH, 14.SHAHAB KARAMI, 19.BEHNAM BARZAY (11.SEYED PEYMAN MIRI 71’), 20.EHSAN PAHLAVAN (17.ARSALAN MOTAHHARI84’), 23.MEHDI SHIRI (16.FARDIN ABEDINI 62’)
Unused Substitutes: 10. AFSHIN ESMAEILZADEH , 12. AMIR ABED ZADEH (gk) , 15. NAVID KHOSHHAVA , 18. MASOUD RIKI , 21. AMMAR NIK KAR , 22. FARZIN KAROUSIAN (gk) ,
Yellow Cards: MOHAMMAD AMIN HAJMOHAMMADI 38’, SHAHAB KARAMI 78’
Olyroos line-up: 1.AARON LENNOX (gk), 3.CURTIS GOOD (C), 4.CONNOR CHAPMAN, 6.JOSHUA BRILLANTE, 8.RYAN EDWARDS (17.JAKE BARKER-DAISH 80’), 10.ADAM TAGGART (7.STEFAN INGO MAUK 86’), 11.CONNOR PAIN, 13.SCOTT GALLOWAY, 16.REECE CAIRA, 21.ANDREW HOOLE, 23.PETER SKAPETIS (9.DYLAN TOMBIDES 90’)
Unused Substitutes: 5.COREY BROWN, 12.JACK DUNCAN (gk), 14.NICHOLAS ANSELL, 15.DAVID VRANKOVIC, 18.JOHN HALL (gk), 19.HAGI GLIGOR, 20.CHRISTOPHER IKONOMIDIS, 22.RYAN KITTO
Yellow Cards: CONNOR CHAPMAN 23’, CURTIS GOOD 49’