Olyroos settle for a point against Serbia

The Australian Men’s Olympic Football team have begun their 2008 Beijing Olympic Games tournament with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Serbia in Shanghai tonight.

The Australian Men-s Olympic Football team have begun their 2008 Beijing Olympic Games tournament with a hard-fought 1-1 draw with Serbia in Shanghai tonight.

After a scoreless first half, Australian midfielder Ruben Zadkovich opened the scoring in the 69th minute when he found himself unmarked at the far post and at the end of a David Carney cross. Zadkovich was able to slip his shot into the net from a very acute angle.

Serbia equalised in the 78th minute through Slobadan Rajkovic who headed home a corner from within the six-yard box.

Both teams worked hard for the winning goal but in the end had to settle for a point each.

The first half saw Serbia create the better openings particularly through Zoran Tosic, whose long range shooting almost had his side in the lead several times.

After a slow start by both sides, it was Tosic with the first chance after 13 minutes, his shot from just inside the penalty box, blocked away for Nikolai Topor-Stanley.

The first real bit of excitement for Australia didn-t arrive until 23 minutes, when Melbourne Victory-s Archie Thompson cut inside on the right edge of the box, but he was well tackled and the chance was gone.

Tosic was proving the main danger and was inches away from giving his side the lead in the 37th minute, when he hit a superb 25 metre first time shot from an Australian clearance; the ball striking the underside of the bar and bouncing out.

Australia-s first chance on goal came two minutes later, when Matt Spiranovic went on a mini solo run, which saw him beat two defenders and shoot from 20 metres, but the shot went straight to the keeper.

Thompson went close with a header from a Carney corner in the 44th minute and then Olyroo keeper Adam Federici produced a good low save to deny yet another long range Tosic strike.

The second half opened with a little more adventure, Tosic again getting in another long range shot which was blocked and saved by Federici.

Serbia then enjoyed a dominant period which saw them attack the Australian defence with some delightful play, with another Tosic shot deflected wide after 61 minutes, while five minutes later Ljubomir Fejse sliced a shot wide when in a great position.

But as so often happens in football, a goal came against the run of play and it was Australia that opened the scoring. Carney sliced through three defenders on the edge of the box and his cross got past Vladimir Stojkovic and Zadkovich was on hand to put his shot home from a narrow angle at the far post.

Federici then prevented an equaliser just two minutes later, keeping out Aleksandar Koralov-s 20 metre free kick, with a diving save to his right.

Australia almost doubled their lead in the 74th minute, when substitute Billy Celeski struck a shot that took a slight deflection, which saw it strike the far post and bounce back into play.

Serbia though was not to be denied and a superb header by Rajkovic at the near post drew the scores level, with a little over ten minutes remaining.

Australia will play their second match of the 2008 Olympic Games Men-s Football Tournament against Argentina at Shanghai Stadium on Sunday 10 August (Kick-off 7:00pm AEST).

Match Details

Australia 1 (Ruben Zadkovich 69-) Serbia 1 (Slobodan Rajkovic 78-)

Thursday 8 August 2008 Shanghai Stadium, Shanghai, China PR

Australia line-up: 1.Adam Federici (gk), 2.Jade North, 4.Mark Milligan (Capt) (16.Billy Celeski 66-), 5.Matthew Spiranovic, 6.Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 8.Stuart Musialik, 10.Archie Thompson (15.Kristian Sarkies 76-), 11.David Carney, 12.Trent McClenahan, 13.Ruben Zadkovich, 17.Nikita Rukavytsya (9.Mark Bridge 88-).

Substitutes Not Used: 18.Tando Velaphi (gk), 3.Adrian Leijer, 14.James Troisi, 27.Neil Kilkenny.

Yellow Cards: Matthew Spiranovic 50-, Trent McClenahan 60-.

Referee: Jerome Damon (RSA) Assistant Referees: Enock Molefe (RSA) & Celestin Ntagungira (RWA) Fourth Official: Thomas Einwaller (AUT)

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