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Republic of Korea vs Australia

Asian Cup Finals 2015 - Final
Australia vs Republic of Korea
at Stadium Australia, Sydney, Australia on 2015-01-31T09:00:00
Score: 1-1 (1-0); ET: 2-1 (2-1)
Scorers: Massimo Luongo (45'), James Troisi (105')
Official Info: AFC Details
Previous Match: Australia vs U.A.E.
Next Match: Germany vs Australia

Korea were nominally the home team as they were first into the final, but despite a big turnout from their supporters there was no doubting this was a home match for Australia. The sell-out crowd was behind the Socceroos and belted out the national anthem. That said, there were times when the Korean supporters were making the most noise.

The first 35 minutes were pretty cagey as both sides stuck to their game plan and probed for weaknesses. Korea settled first, but it didn't seem to help much as few chances were created at either end, although Korea possible should have scored from one of them. Up to the 35' mark I thought it was pretty even, but Korea had the best of the next 5-8 minutes and could claim to have edged the half until Massimo Luongo chimed in with one of the great Australian goals. The receipt, turn and shot were brilliantly executed. From where I was sitting in the stands, it looked like he had plenty of room to aim for. It wasn't until I saw the TV replay that I realised how precise his shot had to be to beat the 'keeper. The crowd was ecstatic. We roared the Aussies into the sheds a minute or two later with a precious 1-0 lead.

The second half proved to be much the same with both sides continuing to go for goal. It was hard to pick who was on top. Both sides made a few chances and defended well. It was a truly even battle. Substitutions were made on both sides. I thought Postecoglou was making a huge call bringing off Cahill after 60'. With the very real prospect of extra time this seemed premature. I felt this concern was confirmed when Kruse was forced off injured. Once Franjic was off at the 75' mark, we'd used all our subs with potentially 45' to go.

It looked like it wouldn't matter as the match wound down. Korea were still dangerous but looked very tired and the Socceroos were resolute in their defence. The 90' were up and 3' was indicated on the board. After about a minute the crowd started rising to their feet in anticipation of the final whistle. And then came the sucker punch. Korea's #7 - who had been dangerous all game - scored. The Korean section of the crowd went berserk and we were looking at extra time.

I was a little concerned as scoring at such an opportune time might give the Koreans a lift. On the whole though, I thought we would overrun them in extra time as they seemed to be out on their feet.

And so it proved really. We still had to work really hard and it took a wonderful turn from Tomi Juric to beat his man on the byline to lead to our wining goal from James Troisi just before half-time (again). There was no coming back for Koreans. Our men's team won its first major trophy and they did it on home soil. Wonderful.

The tournament itself was superb. It ran smoothly and attracted great crowds. There was some great football, lots of goals, very few draws and a wonderful advertisement for Australia, both as a host of major events and as a multi-cultural nation. The Socceroos picked up the Fair Play award (really?), best goalkeeper for Matthew Ryan (deserved) and MVP for Massimo Luongo (debatable). Postecoglou has proved all the nay-sayers completely wrong and has laid the foundation for a strong squad. We've got World Cup qualifiers starting in June. By virtue of our tournament win, we'll get to play in the Confederations Cup in the lead up to the World Cup finals. The future looks very rosy indeed. I had some doubts - recorded in these pages - but they have all been assuaged by a complete performance throughout the tournament. Go Australia!