Australia down South Korea, win Asian Cup

By Steve Larkin
AAP

Massimo Luongo and James Troisi have crowned Australia as the kings of Asian soccer in an historic 2-1 triumph against South Korea.

Both scored as the Socceroos downed the Koreans in an extra-time Asian Cup final thriller at ANZ Stadium in Sydney on Saturday night.

The Socceroos claimed their first major men's soccer title amid high drama.

Australia now hold clutch the Asian Cup and A-League club Western Sydney Wanderers the Asian Champions League trophy - the first time any nation has held both at the same time.

The hosts led 1-0 just before halftime courtesy of a magical moment from Luongo.

Luongo, with two sweet caresses - first with his right foot, then his left, all while on the turn - delicately controlled a Trent Sainsbury pass.

The 22-year-old upstart then rifled a 20 metre right-footer which didn't rise above thigh high to beat the diving Korean keeper Kim Jin-Hyeon.

Luongo's precocious strike was the first goal the South Koreans conceded in 525 minutes in the tournament.

And it appeared the winner until well into injury time in regulation play when South Korea's national hero Son Heung-Min equalised just two minutes from fulltime.

But Troisi the crowd of 76,385 into raptures with the winner 15 minutes into extra time.

After substitute Tomi Juric bullocked his way into the box and shot from an acute angle, Troisi pounced on a spillage from Korea's keeper.

Postecoglou was mobbed by his coaching staff at the final whistle before sharing embraces his players.

Then, Postecoglou - who entered the tournament with questions over his tenure after returning just two wins from his initial dozen matches - strode along the boundary line, wildly waving his arms, bidding the crowd to get even louder.

The Socceroos had heroes aplenty - Luongo for his brash top-shelf strike, Troisi for his most timely of goals.

But defender Trent Sainsbury produced a monster of a game and was justifiably acclaimed as man of the match.

Sainsbury and his central defensive partner Matthew Spiranovic were stoic in the face of Korea's attacks.

And the blue-collar midfield grunt offered by cool captain Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan was vital.

The only downer for the Socceroos was the loss of luckless Robbie Kruse to injury.

Kruse, after missing last year's World Cup because of a knee reconstruction, crumpled without contact in the 66th minute with what appeared a serious left Achilles injury.

He was stretchered off, in tears.

Luongo was named the Asian Cup's most valuable player, capping a remarkable breakout tournament for the Sydney-born midfielder, who plays for Swindon Town in England's third tier.

Mat Ryan was the goalkeeper of tournament with United Arab Emirates' striker Ali Mabkhout taking the golden boot award for the cup's leading scorer, with a total of five goals.

South Korean coach Uli Stielike said the final was a most even affair.

"I do not agree that we are not champions, I agree that we don't have the cup but our players are champions of a lot of heart," he said.

"Today was a game that could be one side or the other side, the victory."

He then wryly added: "I personally think the best for this game would be a draw and each team can take two years of the cup at home."

Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou hailed the special achievement of his players.

"I'm very proud of everyone involved, to win a tournament like this a lot of hard work goes in," he said.

"To concede a goal in the last minute really tested us as group, and our players stood up.

"The boys showed championship quality when it was needed."