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Dec 3, 2012

Shaky Socceroos beat Hong Kong

Socceroos stalwart Brett Emerton came to the rescue of an unconvincing Australian side, netting the winner in the dying minutes in their 1-0 win over lowly Hong Kong.

At No.172 Hong Kong are the lowest ranked team 33rd-ranked Australia have ever played, yet the Socceroos never looked to get on top of the hosts despite having the lion's share of possession in their East Asian Cup qualifier.

Brisbane duo Ivan Franjic and Matthew Smith made their international debuts on Monday night.

But late substitute Adam Taggart, also earning his first cap, and Central Coast dynamo Thomas Rogic injected the pace Australia needed in the final stages.

A well organised Hong Kong side played a short, sharp passing game.

There was little action in front of goal in the opening half, with the first real shot coming in the 30th minute courtesy of Hong Kong's Chan Man Fai.

Australia had a chance to go ahead moments later when an Emerton free-kick caused panic in the penalty box, but Mark Milligan lost a goal-mouth scramble with 'keeper Yapp Hung Fai.

Aziz Behich played a perfect ball to Matt McKay who looked like scoring but sent his powerful volley over the crossbar.

Melbourne Victory striker Archie Thompson continued the Australian assault with a shot just before the break but misfired.

The hosts were fired up in the second half and Lo Kwan Yee forced an early save by Socceroos 'keeper Eugene Galekovic.

Australia started showing signs of frustration and skipper Emerton was booked for a bad tackle.

Lo threatened again in the 50th minute, keeping Adelaide gloveman Galekovic busy with another strike.

The shots kept coming from the hosts, with Galekovic doing well to save a strike from Lee Wai Lim.

Australia fired back with shots from Thompson and Franjic, but never really looked convincing.

In an attempt to add pace up front Osieck substituted Taggart for Thompson in the 70th minute.

He then brought Rogic on for Richard Garcia 10 minutes later and the impressive youngster didn't take long to have an impact, forcing a save from Yapp with his first touch.

But it was veteran Emerton who finally found the net for Australia in the 86th minute.

Sydney FC teen Terry Antonis came on in the final minute as the fourth player to make his debut.

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