Simon stars for Olyroos

Matt Simon's push for a place in the Olyroos squad for the 2008 Olympic Games continued to gain momentum, scoring a hat-trick in the 3-1 win over Republic of Ireland in the semi final of the Intercontinental Cup.


Simon scored all three goals in the 3-1 win that has put Australia into the final against Nigeria, who defeated Chile 2-1 in the other semi final. Of the nations at the Intercontinental Cup, Australia and Nigeria are the only two going to the Olympics, so in many respects it's a fitting and worthy finale to the inaugural tournament.

Central Coast Mariners striker Simon has been very much a peripheral figure in the squad up till now, but his five goals in the four games at the Cup have certainly helped his cause to grab one of the few places open to outfield players.

It was a terrific start by Australia and Simon, with two goals in the first 13 minutes, which always had them in control of the match.

The first came after just seven minutes when Jason Hoffman made a run down the right and he ball to the far post was perfect for Simon, who headed home.

Six minutes later, Spase Dilevski, back after missing the final group match because of suspension, delivered a quality ball in behind the Irish defence and Simon headed home again.

Ireland's attack was given few chances to score by the steady Australian defence, but in the 39th minute they almost pulled a goal back with a great strike that hit the top of the crossbar.

Australia made sure of victory with 15 minutes remaining, when Stuart Musialik played a long ball to the edge of the area for Dario Vidosic. The former Queensland Roar striker worked his way in the penalty area and then cutback a superb pass to Simon who slid the ball home for his hat-trick.

Ireland managed to pull a goal back with five minutes to go, Alan Judge's shot from 25 metres out, giving Aussie keeper Tando Velaphi no chance, as it sailed into the top corner.

Interestingly, Ireland featured Aston Villa's young Aussie kid Shane Lowry in their side.

The final will be held on Sunday night in Kuala Lumpur with kick-off at 8.45pm (10.45pm AEST).

Scoreboard

Olyroos 3
(Matt Simon 7'/13'/75') defeated Republic of Ireland 1

Olyroos line-up: Tando Velaphi (gk); Trent McClenahan, Adrian Leijer, Mark Milligan (Nigel Boogaard 54'), Tarek Elrich, Stuart Musialik, Spase Dilevski (Adam D'Apuzzo 66'), Michael Zullo, Jason Hoffman, Dario Vidosic, Matthew Simon (Nikita Rukavysta 77').
Source: Football Federation Australia