DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Defending champion Australia rebounded from an opening loss in the Asian Cup by defeating Palestine 3-0 Friday and moving into position to advance to the knockout round.
Jamie Maclaren and Awer Mabil scored two minutes apart in the first half and substitute Apostolos Giannou added the third in the second to put the Socceroos in second place in Group B.
Australia opened with a 1-0 loss to group leader Jordan.
Jordan, which has already advanced to the next round, has six points, three more than Australia. Syria and Palestine have a point each from their opening draw.
Australia will try to secure its spot in the last 16 when it faces Syria on Tuesday. Palestine plays Jordan at the same time.
The top two teams in each group and the four best third-place teams advance to the round of 16.
Australia was last in the group when the match started at Rashid Stadium, but the defending champions didn’t stay there for long.
MacLaren scored his first international goal with a header from near the penalty spot in the 18th minute. A few moments later, Mabil scored from close range after a well-placed cross by Chris Ikonomidis.
Less than 10 minutes after entering the match, Giannou headed in the final goal in the 90th, also off a cross by Ikonomidis.
“I think we’re just getting started, it’s exciting times ahead,” said Ikonomidis, one of the three changes to the starting lineup made by Australia coach Graham Arnold. “It’s a new era under Arnie and we’re really finding our feet now.”
This is Australia’s first tournament squad in a generation without veterans Tim Cahill or Mile Jedinak, who helped the team win the Asian Cup title in 2015.
Later Friday, China faces the Philippines and South Korea plays Kyrgyzstan.
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