A-Leagues pair help Socceroos top Group B at Asian Cup

The Socceroos drew 1-1 with second-placed Uzbekistan in a result that was enough for Australia to cement top spot in Group B en route to the AFC Asian Cup last 16.

Melbourne City full-back Aziz Behich was in the starting XI, while Melbourne Victory talisman Bruno Fornaroli came off the bench at Al Janoub Stadium in Qatar on Tuesday.

Champions in 2015, the Socceroos conceded for the first time after Martin Boyle’s penalty in first-half stoppage time was cancelled out by Azizbek Turgunboev 12 minutes from the end.

The Socceroos, who had Kusini Yengi lead their attack in the absence of the injured Mitch Duke, will play the best third-placed team from either Group C or Group D.

“We came here at the start of the tournament to top the group and we’ve got the job done,” said head coach Graham Arnold, who had Western Sydney Wanderers goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas on the bench while Adelaide United’s Joe Gauci is also in the squad.

“And it’s the most important thing. And we move forward now one game at a time and see who our next opponent is. Overall, we’re getting better as we go.

“What some people don’t understand is we have four players here that have had Asian Cup experience.

“And in this squad of 26, we only have 12 players that were here in Qatar for the World Cup. So I’m blending and gelling a new squad together.

“Of course we can do things better. But when you’ve only had them for about two, three weeks to get them sorted out and we’ve got to play games as well, it’s always about that culture and commitment the boys give that is very, very good.”