World: Asian Cup
2 - 0
(0 - 0)
J. Irvine (50), J. Bos (73)
By Peter Weis@PeterVicey

Irvine on target as Aussies defeat India in opening AFC match

Graham Arnold's Australian Socceroos's have gotten their 2023 AFC Asian Cup off to a perfect start thanks to an opening goal from 1. FC St. Pauli captain Jackson Irvine. 
The 2015 AFC Asian continental champions have gotten their 2023 AFC Asian Cup campaign off to a winning start against a determined Indian side at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Qatar. Graham Arnold's Australian Socceroos defeated Igor Štimac's Indian Blue Tigers 2-0 in their opening round of group-stage play. The two nations largely neutralized one another during a low-key first half, but the Aussies were eventually able to wear their opponents down.

Participating in just their fourth AFC tournament, the Indian national team demonstrated grit and determination reminiscent of the Stephen Constantine side that performed so well in the 2019 competition's group phases. Arnold's crew by no means found it easy to net their opening goal. The Australian attack was limited mostly to tepid work along the flanks and tame attempts to cross into the box.

Thankfully for the Socceroos, one such attempt led to the 1-0 in the 50th. Indian keeper Gurpreet Singh Sandhu spilled a cross directly onto the feet of 1. FC St. Pauli captain Jackson Irvine. The St. Pauli skipper - who started alongside his fellow German club representative Connor Metcalfe - happily accepted the gift and stuffed the rebound over the line. Indian defender Nikhil Poojary was unable to clear in time.

Australia would later increase their lead via a combination from substitutes Riley McGree and Jordan Bos in the 73rd. McGree had come on for Metcalfe just nine minutes prior. The Aussies cruised with Irvine going the full 90 minutes. German football's third Aussie representative, SV Wehen Wiesbaden striker John Iredale, did not feature in Arnold's initial match-day squad.

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