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Australia recovered smartly from their opening loss to Jordan to breathe fresh life into their Asian Cup campaign with a comfortable 3-0 win over Palestine in Dubai on Friday.
The holders suffered a shock 1-0 defeat five days previously but quickfire goals from Jamie Maclaren - his first for his country - and Awer Mabil in the opening period set them on their way at Rashid Stadium before Apostolos Giannou rounded off the scoring late on.
The first two goals arrived in the 18th and 20th minutes, Maclaren heading home Tom Rogic's cross before Mabil ghosted in to get on the end of Chris Ikonomidis' angled ball from the left flank - the winger picking up a second assist for Giannou at the end of regulation time.
Victory lifts the Socceroos to second in the Group B table, two points clear of their final opponents Syria, against whom a draw will be enough to seal qualification to the last 16, while Palestine are bottom on one point but are far from out of the knockout picture.
Graham Arnold had called on his players to come out fighting after that loss to Jordan and he must have been thrilled to see a two-goal lead opened up inside the first quarter of the game.
Rogic, playing with a broken hand suffered last time out, sent in an excellent cross from the right that was glanced home by Maclaren for the first.
And the advantage was doubled shortly afterwards as Mabil was left completely unmarked to steal in at the back post and convert Ikonomidis' delivery from five yards.
Australia ought to have put the game to bed shortly before the break when the two goalscorers combined, only for Mabil to blaze over at close range.
The Socceroos almost claimed a fortuitous third when Rhyan Grant's low cross deflected off Abdallah Jaber and struck the bar but the win was complete in the 90th minute as substitute Giannou rose unchallenged to head in another Ikonomidis centre as Arnold's men delivered the requisite response.
Goal! Sub Apostolos Giannou makes it 3-0 for Australia!
Goal! Australia quickly double their lead! Awer Mabil ghosts in at the back post to sidefoot Australia into the lead!
GOAL! Australia take the lead! Jamie Maclaren scores his first ever goal for the Socceroos! A deft header which nestles into the bottom corner!
Team news! Australia has made three changes from the side that lost to Jordan. Chris Ikonomidis, Jackson Irvine & Rhyan Grant (along with that mullet) come in replacing Robbie Kruse, Massimo Luongo & Josh Risdon in the side. As for Palestine, Abdelatif Bahdari is in for Mohammed Saleh who was sent off against Syria. Pablo Tamburrini is out, and Mahmoud Wadi replaces him in midfield, in attack Sameh Maraaba & Yashir Pinto make the bench!
📝 Starting XIs for both teams: 🇵🇸 Palestine 🆚 Australia 🇦🇺— #AsianCup2019 (@afcasiancup) January 11, 2019
We're less than one hour away from kick-off. pic.twitter.com/trw9rk9ppq
The Australian fans are out in force! The Socceroos need a win today to aid qualification!
It' s a sellout today at the Maktoum Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium! Expect a rowdy atmosphere!
Good afternoon! Welcome to the Live Updates of Palestine Vs Australia. This game is a must-win for the Socceroos, as the defending champions were shocked 1-0 by Jordan in their opening game of the tournament. As for Palestine, they came away with a hard-earned point against Syria in a 0-0 draw, so confidence will be high that the West Asian nation can shut out the Socceroos. As ever, join me for all the latest team news, build up and live match commentary from the game. As an extra special treat we will also have the goals as they go in!