SYDNEY (AFP) – Five great goals from the Asian Cup group stage:
– Sardar Azmoun (IRI) v Qatar
Moments of individual skill have proved decisive for Iran but Azmoun’s winner in the 1-0 triumph over Qatar was the pick of the bunch.
Receiving the ball on the edge of the box and with defender Abdelkarim Hassan in close attention, the 20-year-old Rubin Kazan striker seemed unlikely to score.
But stretching out his right boot, he flicked the ball back between his legs, past the flummoxed Hassan and into space in the box, before he scampered forwards and poked it into the bottom right for a terrific goal.
– Khalfan Ibrahim (QAT) v UAE
Ibrahim’s excellent strike in their opening match sadly proved the best moment of the tournament for both the “Maradona of Qatar” and his team, who lost all three group games and were eliminated.
Pint-sized Ibrahim showed all the spring and dexterity of his Argentine namesake when he controlled a bouncing rebound on his chest and then leapt to volley it over the head of UAE goalkeeper Majed Naser and two defenders.
Qatar’s joy was short-lived, however, as they lost 4-1 to Gulf rivals UAE and didn’t lead a game again in the tournament. Al Sadd forward Ibrahim, 26, also succumbed to a knee injury and missed their final game.
– Robbie Kruse (AUS) v Oman
Australia’s slick attacking play was exemplified by this goal started and finished by Kruse with help from Swindon Town’s Massimo Luongo.
The Bayer Leverkusen forward picked up the ball on halfway and played it forward to Luongo, who chipped it up and lofted it back into Kruse’s path.
The ball fell perfectly on the striker’s knee and he nudged it forward before slamming it home beneath the body of the diving Ali Al Habsi. It was Australia’s second goal of the night and among eight they scored in their first two games, all by different players.
– Yaser Kasim (IRQ) v Jordan
The young Iraqi evoked memories of days of old when he jinked past three defenders to score a magical winner in their Group D clash in Brisbane.
Slaloming runs are rare in the modern game but Kasim twisted and turned his way through the Jordanian rearguard before netting the game’s only goal.
The effect was only slightly mitigated by the half-hearted challenges against the Swindon Town midfielder, 23, and the fact that his shot was deflected off the boot of a fourth defender.
– Sun Ke (CHN) v Uzbekistan
Jiangsu Sainty midfielder Sun has been the goal-scoring hero behind China’s best ever start to an Asian Cup and it began with his memorable winning strike in the 2-1 victory over Uzbekistan.
After Odil Ahmedov’s deflected opener, China drew level in the second half through Wu Xi. Sun, just two minutes after coming on as a substitute, then gambled and won it for China as he brought the ball forward into space and hit a curling shot from distance which evaded outstretched goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov and crept in at the post.