Bresciano Strike Wins It For Australia - Full Repo

A brilliant free kick from Mark Bresciano has secured Australia the important win against arch rival New Zealand in their opening game of the OFC Nations Cup at Hindmarsh Stadium tonight.

The Socceroos have opened their OFC Nations Cup campaign with a dogged 1-0 victory over Trans Tasman rivals New Zealand.   A late first half free kick from Marco Bresciano (pictured right) sealed the win for the Aussies, who thoroughly dominated possession and chances throughout the ninety minutes.   Credit must go to the visitors though, who despite being largely written off before the match proved a hefty challenge for Frank Farina-s men.   Kiwi coach Mick Waitt will take great pride from the performance of his charges, who, given a kinder bounce of the ball, may just have snatched an unlikely equalizer.   Ultimately though, the Socceroos have returned to the winners circle and coach Farina was a relieved man at the post match press conference.   “I-m happy with the win and with parts of our play,” spoke Farina of the performance from his charges.   “But I know our finishing can be better and should be better.”   The lead that the home side so richly deserved arrived after 40 minutes when Bresciano demonstrated his undoubted quality for Australia-s soccer fans once more.   Having been fouled by All White defender Tony Lochhead on the edge of the penalty box, Bresciano stepped up to calmly slot home a sweet right-footed shot to Mark Paston-s bottom left.   Bresciano-s opener was met with a sigh of relief from the Australia bench, who were starting to feel the pressure of a resilient Kiwi outfit.   Try as they might, and they most certainly did, the Socceroos were unable to penetrate the inexperienced New Zealand defence for the majority of the first stanza.   Napoli striker Vieri found himself on the wrong side of the linesman-s flag on frequent occasions and the desperate defense of Kiwi pairing Steven Old and Lochhead negated the fine efforts of Brett Emerton and Stan Lazaridis down the flanks.   John Aloisi, one of three Adelaide locals that started the match, should have put the Socceroos ahead on 20 minutes after being fed a sublime through ball by Bresciano.   Osasuna-s top marksman could only scuttle his tame effort wide of Paston with the goal at his mercy, much to the disappointment of his enthusiastic hometown crowd.   The same could be said for Vieri, who had a glorious opportunity in the latter stages of the half when latching on to a pinpoint cross from Emerton.   Paston was left with a relatively easy save after Vieri-s header rocketed towards the Kiwi goal.   For all the home sides pressure, the All Whites almost took the lead midway through the half when a speculative effort from Vaughan Coveny forced a hurried save from Aussie ‘keeper Zeljko Kalac, who parried Coveny-s effort for a corner.   The second half contained much of the same from Australia, as they tried in vain to extend their lead.   Stan Lazaridis, again a pillar of consistency for the Socceroos came close to scoring his first international goal after 63 minutes, following a clever exchange with Bresciano from deep.   The Birmingham winger forced Paston into a quality low save, meaning the affable speedster will have to wait another game to break his unbelievable drought.   It was more a case of New Zealand grinding out a result that Australia come the end of the match, with the Kiwis seemingly contented with the narrow scoreline.   Kalac remained largely untroubled in the closing stages as the home side continued to press the opposition-s goal.   Substitute Mile Sterjovski will rue a golden chance to push for a starting berth after he skewed a gimmie late in the match that would have doubled the Aussies lead.   In the end, the Socceroos finish round one of the OFC Nations Cup top of the group and in a positive frame ahead of their hectic schedule.   “New Zealand always deserve credit and they-ll always make it tough,” said Farina of the Socceroos traditional rivals.   “In general I thought we dominated the game, but give New Zealand credit because they worked hard and defended in numbers.   “They made it hard for us, but we expected that anyway.”   Farina-s counterpart was disappointed with the result, but ecstatic with the performance of his underdogs.   “Obviously we don-t like losing,” the Kiwi coach said bluntly after the match.   “It puts a bit of pressure on us for the remaining games but there-s an awful lot of positives to come out when you look at the inexperience of some of our players in our back four.   “Steven Old, last week, was playing in the Central Federation League for Manawatu in a league that I could probably still play in to get some game time and tonight he-s up again John Aloisi!”   Positively for Farina and the Socceroos, former youth starlet Adrian Madaschi made his long awaited senior debut, coming on for the injured Steve Laybutt.   Laybutt is in doubt for Monday-s clash with Tahiti after rolling his ankle late in the game, while Simon Colosimo is also an unlikely starter after coming off injured for Jade North early in the half.   Meanwhile the Solomons Islands have prevailed 1-0 over Melanesian rivals Vanuatu at the Marden Sports Complex today in what was a fairly listless encounter.   Both sides struggled for cohesion and composure at times, with Solomons veteran Batram Suri netting the first goal of the 2004 OFC Nations Cup from the penalty spot.   Suri-s early second half strike was just reward for the Solomons, who although falling well short of flattery, thoroughly deserved their first up win and will take enormous heart into Monday evening-s clash with New Zealand.   Fiji and Tahiti played out an entertaining, yet goal less draw in the curtain raiser fixture at Hindmarsh Stadium tonight.   A stalemate seemed inevitable in the end, despite the strong attacking intentions declared by both teams in what was a free flowing and intensely fought encounter that neither side deserved to lose.   The draw was not an ideal result for either side in their quest for a World Cup qualification berth, as they must now topple the highflying Solomons as well as upset Australia or New Zealand to force a berth in the top two.