Australia's Young Socceroos has defeated Yemen 4-1 in its opening match of the AFC U-19 Championship in Zibo, China.
After conceding shortly after the start of the match, the Young Socceroos responded with three first half goals through Kofi Danning, Kerem Bulut and Dylan McGowan, with Matthew Fletcher finishing the scoring late in the second half.
Australia got off to a bad start after Dylan McGowan failed to control the ball on the edge of the box in the second minute of the match. Yemen’s Ahmed Al Baidhani pounced on the ball and neatly slotted it to the right of Mark Birighitti.
Twelve minutes later Yemen turned the ball over to Australia coming out of defence with Mathew Leckie capitalising on the error. Leckie made a dashing run into the box and then played the ball across the goal for Kofi Danning to gather the rebound off Yemeni goalkeeper Abdo Esam and tap in to equalise.
The Young Socceroos took the lead in the 27th minute after Dylan McGowan was pulled down by a Yemen defender during an Australian corner kick. Kerem Bulut stepped up to take the resulting penalty and cheekily dinked his shot over the goalkeeper to claim a goal.
On the half hour, the Australians extended their lead from another corner ,when Marc Warren hit a deep and curving ball to Dylan McGowan, who was unmarked in the box. McGowan’s resulting header flew into the top right corner of the goal.
The second half saw the Young Socceroos continue to dominate possession and created a number of scoring opportunities.
One of the best chances of the half came in the 75th minute after Leckie turned his defender inside-out and then played a looping ball into the 6 yard box to Bulut. Bulut's header forced a great save by Abdo Esam who deflected the ball into the left post and back into play.
The scoring was completed in the 83rd minute after Nikola Stanojevic made a fast break and then played a pinpoint, long ball to Brendan Hamill. Hamill attacked down the right side and then crossed to Matthew Fletcher who calmly finished the move with a tap in.
Speaking after the match, Young Socceroos Head Coach Jan Versleijen was pleased with his team’s first match of the tournament.
'After starting a bit slowly and nervously we dominated the game for the first half," he said.
'Being behind one-nil we did not panic and knowing that we have a quality team we started to control the game and this difference ensured we were able to create and convert goal scoring opportunities.
'The second half we knew if we continued to control the game that chances would come and we managed to get one more goal and it could have been two or three more.
'Mathew Leckie was outstanding tonight and his contribution was a major factor in the result."
Versleijen concluded: 'Overall I was pleased with the start to the tournament knowing that we will improve as we play more matches and we are looking forward to what will be a very hard match with Iran on Wednesday."
The victory puts the Young Socceroos on top of its group after the Korea Republic defeated IR Iran 2-0 in the earlier match.
Australia will play its next match of the tournament against IR Iran on Wednesday 6 October with their final group match against Korea Republic on Friday 8 October.