Australia beat Indonesia 4-0 in the first game of the Asian Cup knockout stage to advance to the quarter-finals after a feisty match at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium.
Indonesia had not beaten Australia in 43 years and, despite the south-east Asian side’s loud supporters vastly outnumbering the Australian fans in the tiny arena, it was Graham Arnold’s side who prevailed after capitalising on their chances.
“Credit to Indonesia, I think they made it tough. Physically, they were very big and strong. It was a tough game. The quality that we’ve got up front came through today,” Arnold told reporters.
“Asian Football is coming along with leaps and bounds. We expected that, that’s exactly what we said to the boys, ‘Be ready for a fight. Be ready for a physical battle.’ Because that’s what Indonesia is going to bring.
“The improvement I saw today was the individual belief… In a lot of ways (they played with) more freedom and were relaxed, that’s what I want. It’s good to have a great system of play and it’s good to have great attacking patterns.”
Indonesia started the game on the front foot and gave their opponents an early scare with an effort on goal but Australia took the lead in the 12th minute when Jackson Irvine’s cross was deflected into the net by defender Elkan Baggott.
Australia weathered the storm as Indonesia attempted to find a way through their staunch defence, before Boyle gave them a two-goal cushion on the stroke of halftime when he connected with Gethin Jones’s cross to head in at the far post.
But goal celebrations were muted amid some concern as Boyle took a few moments to get back to his feet but the 30-year-old soon got up and dusted himself off before continuing.
“I honestly don’t know, I just blanked out for a second. These balls are quite hard,” Boyle said with a laugh.
“The ball was in the box and I threw myself at it… I fell weirdly and I was a bit dazed but I was alright to continue.”
The Indonesian fans in red and white tried their best to spur on their team but Australia remained composed, although they nearly found themselves in trouble when Jones deliberately tripped Rafael Struick off the ball in retaliation.
The foul occurred right in front of Arnold, who angrily threw a water bottle to the turf expecting a red card. But the referee only cautioned Jones, who was immediately taken off by Arnold.
Craig Goodwin came on as a late substitute and the forward made an instant impact when he pounced on a rebound to score in the 89th minute while towering defender Harry Souttar made it 4-0 moments later with a glancing header from a set piece.
Australia will play either Saudi Arabia or South Korea in the quarter-finals.
Indonesia were the lowest-ranked team in the knockout stage, sitting 121 rungs below Australia, and coach Shin Tae-yong said he was proud of his young side regardless of the four goals they conceded.
“I don’t think we lost in terms of the performance level and one of the reasons was the players did well. I gave them instructions how to play and they followed those very well, that was from our preparation,” the South Korean coach said.
“We lost because there’s a level of difference, experience and concentration. Someday we’re going to play at a similar level against Australia.”