BRISBANE, Australia, Oct 15 (Reuters) - Blackburn Rovers midfielder Brett Emerton scored twice to help Australia thrash Qatar 4-0 on Wednesday and move to the top of their Asian World Cup qualifying group.
Emerton converted a penalty in the first half and scored
midway through the second as the Socceroos completely
overwhelmed a lacklustre Qatari outfit.
Australia's other goals came from Everton's Tim Cahill, who
notched his 14th international goal in just 29 appearances, and
the towering Josh Kennedy with a 76th minute header.
With Japan and Uzbekistan playing out a 1-1 draw in Saitama
on Wednesday, Australia are two points clear at the top of Group
Japan and Qatar both have four points although the Middle
East side has played one more match then the two leading
contenders in the group.
The top two teams from both Asian groups qualify directly
for the 2010 finals in South Africa, with the third placed teams
to meet each other to determine who enters a play-off with
Oceania champions New Zealand.
Australian coach Pim Verbeek said he could not ask for more.
"We've had two games, got six points, scored five goals and
had no goals against," he said.
Verbeek said the Australians had played the almost perfect
"I think we did well. We controlled, we waited for the right
moment to use the strikers, and they did great," he said.
Qatar had opened their qualifying campaign with a 3-0 win
over Uzbekistan and a 1-1 draw with Bahrain, but they never
looked like matching the more powerful and committed Socceroos.
The match was delayed by 30 minutes after an electrical
storm and tropical downpour swept across Brisbane an hour before
kickoff, sending the players scurrying from the field during
However, once the match got underway the Australians
dominated the match.
Cahill opened the scoring after only nine minutes and
Emerton put them further ahead when Saudi referee Khalil Ibrahim
Algahmbi ruled that Qatari defender Abdulla Koni had fouled
Cahill in the box.
Emerton then finished off some good lead-up work from Celtic
striker Scott McDonald and Kennedy after 76 minutes, before the
1.92 metre tall Kennedy completed the rout when he headed over
the top of keeper Abdulaziz Ali Abdulla.