WATCH: Subway Socceroos clinch top spot in Group B following Uzbekistan draw

Australia will progress to the knockout stage as Group B victors having battled to a 1-1 draw against a strong Uzbekistan side.

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A goal from the spot by Martin Boyle just before half-time was enough to clinch that all important point, with the game eventually levelled back by Azizbek Turgunboev's header late on.

Following the news that forward Mitchell Duke was to miss the clash through injury, coach Graham Arnold picked Portsmouth striker Kusini Yengi in his place, a first starting berth for Yengi in green and gold.

A number of other changes were made to the side that defeated Syria, with Nathaniel Atkinson and Kye Rowles joining the backline, while Riley McGree made his first start of the tournament.

The new starters almost proved their worth within the first 10 minutes, with Riley McGree's mazy run opening up the men in blue, before feeding a pass to Aziz Behich, who then found the head of Kusini Yengi.

The striker's header found the back of the net, however an offside from earlier in the play denied Yengi his first international goal.


A new national team record was broken in the 36th minute, as the current squad surpassed 609 minutes without conceding, breaking the total set by the 2008 squad.

Having teed up Yengi earlier in the half, McGree had the favour returned in the 40th minute, with a sight on goal by the Middlesbrough star after a strong run within the box from his forward partner.

The strike may have drifted wide, but an Uzbek handball in the lead-up forced the referee to award Australia a penalty kick. Martin Boyle was the man elected to take the spot-kick and calmly slotted the ball into the bottom-right corner of the goal.

The second half proved to be a lot tighter than the first, with the Uzbekistan side hoping to regain control of the group and the Australians fighting for a second goal.

Having not been able to break through the Uzbek wall in the second stanza, Graham Arnold made a change to his frontline with Connor Metcalfe replacing Martin Boyle, forcing one of Australia's most dangerous weapons, Riley McGree, further forward.

The Socceroos seven-game run without conceding came to an end in the 80th minute, as Azizbek Turgunboev rose highest from a looping cross to head Uzbekistan level.

In search of the lead once again, Australia introduced further attacking reinforcements, with A-League top-scorer Bruno Fornaroli and Belgium based midfielder Aiden O'Neill brought on in the 84th minute.

Late in injury-time, young stars Marco Tilio and Lewis Miller were brought on for their Asian Cup debuts, with Miller immediately involved with a trademark long-throw almost setting up fellow substitute Tilio inside the six-yard box.

The final whistle secured the green and gold's place as group winners, with a knockout tie against an unknown 3rd place outfit soon to follow.

Australia: 1 (Martin Boyle 45+1')

Uzbekistan: 1 (Azizbek Turgunboev 80')

Date: Tuesday, 23rd January 2024

Venue: Al-Janoub Stadium, Al Wakrah, Qatar

Australia: 1. (C) (GK) Maty Ryan, 3. Nathaniel Atkinson (Lewis Miller 90+3'), 19. Harry Souttar, 4. Kye Rowles, 16. Aziz Behich, 17. Keanu Baccus (Aiden O'Neill 84'), 22. Jackson Irvine, 14. Riley McGree (Bruno Fornaroli 84'), 6. Martin Boyle (Connor Metcalfe 72'), 10. Kusini Yengi, 5. Jordan Bos (Marco Tilio 90+3')

Substitutes Not Used: 2. Thomas Deng, 7. Samuel Silvera, 12. (GK) Lawrence Thomas, 21. Cameron Burgess, 23. Craig Goodwin, 24. Patrick Yazbek, 26. John Iredale

Yellow Cards: Harry Souttar 50', Riley McGree 70'

Red Cards: N/A

Uzbekistan: 1. (GK) U Yusupov, 4. F Sayfiev, 5. R Ashurmatov, 7. (C) O Shukurov, 9. O Khamrobekov, 11. O Urunov (J Masharipov 46'), 15. U Eshmurodov, 18. A Abdullaev, 20. K Erkinov (A Turgunboev 63'), 22. A Fayzullaev (I Sergeev 63' (J Iskanderov 84')), 26. Z Abdirakhmatov

Substitutes Not Used: 2. M Khamraliev, 6. D Kholmatov, 12. A Nematov, 14. J Boltaboev, 16. B Ergashev, 17. B Adbikholikov, 23. S Umarov, 24. A Amonov

Yellow Cards: U Eshmurodov 25', O Khamrobekov 45', O Shukurov 45+3'

Red Cards: N/A


Round of 16 opponent to be confirmed following the conclusion of the tournament's group stage.

Every AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2023 match will be live on Paramount+