By ADAM TROXTELL
For the first time since switching from the Oceania region, Australia is a continental champion.
The Socceroos triumphed 2-1 in extra time against heavyweights South Korea to win the Asian Cup on home soil. James Troisi scored in the 105th minute to make Australia the first men’s national team to win two different continental titles.
It was an exciting end to an entertaining final. The teams split possession and combined for eight shots on target.
Massimo Luongo had his long-range effort sail into the net for a 1-0 Australia lead just before halftime. It looked like his strike was the crucial one in a very even contest, but Heung-Min Son’s 90th minute equalizer for South Korea sent things into extra time.
Australia found that extra gear in the added period. Tomi Juric, who was substituted on for Tim Cahill in the 64th minute, muscled his way past a defender before sending a shot on goal. Troisi was there to poke home the saved effort, sending more than 76,000 fans at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney into a frenzy.
New York Red Bulls attacker Cahill was part of an exciting first half. His snap-shot from just outside the penalty area was saved, but it played a part in building momentum ahead of the opener.
In the win, Australia denied South Korea a first Asian Cup win in 55 years. They also became the first host nation to lift the title since Japan in 1992.
Australia will now play in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia as Asian representatives.