Australia beat Syria 1-0 to qualify for the Asian Cup last 16 as they maintained their perfect record in Group B on Thursday after midfielder Jackson Irvine came to the rescue once again with his second goal of the tournament.

Iran Press/ West Asia:  After a goalless first half, Irvine once again gave Australia the lead, having scored the opening goal in their 2-0 win over India in their first group game.

The victory moved 2015 champions Australia to six points while Syria are third with one point from two games. Uzbekistan are second with four points after they thumped India 3-0 in Thursday's encounter at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

After Australia's win coach Graham Arnold told reporters: "I was very happy with our defensive performance. That's two clean sheets that we've started off with now in the Asian Cup. Overall, I know we will improve as we go on.

"One of the things we've been working on is Jackson, he gets into the box well and he has goalscoring ability ... Jackson has now scored two goals in two games and he's getting in those positions to score, which is important."

Roared on by their supporters, Syria had started on the front foot and the Middle Eastern side nearly opened the scoring through Pablo Sabbag, who hit the post in the fifth minute.

But Australia quickly settled down and soon controlled possession, with most of the action in Syria's half.

Arnold hoped to see improvement in their set pieces and they had a chance from a corner when Gethin Jones headed the ball to the far post but Irvine was unable to get on the end of it.

Syria face India in their final group match on Tuesday while Australia play Uzbekistan, who extended their unbeaten record over India to seven games with a comfortable victory -- their fifth in a row against the south Asian side. Goals from Abbosbek Fayzullaev and Igor Sergeyev gave Uzbekistan a 2-0 lead inside 18 minutes as they capitalised on India's sloppy defending.

Sherzod Nasrullaev added a third in first-half added time when he tapped in from his own rebound off the post to put the game out of reach.


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