The Socceroos have kept their hopes of a spot in the FIFA World Cup alive after they edged out the United Arab Emirates 2-1 last night in a do or die clash.
The Aussies now take on Peru to book a place in this year’s tournament in Qatar which begins on November 21.
They overcame a slow start to the game to come alive in the second half with some slick ball movement from the midfield and the forwards at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Qatar.
Midfielder Jackson Irvine netted the first goal of the game in the 53rd minute, after cutting back on the inside from a brilliant pass from Martin Boyle to put the visitors ahead.
Boyle, who had been was isolated by the UAE defence on the right edge of the box, guided the ball perfectly to his teammate near the penalty area.
He led the Aussies from the front in a standout performance for the green and gold to keep Australia’s chances of making a fifth consecutive World Cup appearance on track.
Scottish born Boyle told Channel 10 after the game that his side never stopped looking for goal scoring opportunities.
“[We] controlled the game, we kept the ball well, we kept minimal chances and we kept putting the ball wide to create chances,” he said.
It did not take long for the hosts to equalise with Brazilian born Caoi Canedo equalising in the 57th minute. Pacey winger Harib Abdalla delivered a sensational cross that found the feet of Canedo.
Abdalla threatened the Aussie defensive line all night and caused plenty of problems for Nathaniel Atkinson on the left edge as the fullback struggled to contain the quick and evasive winger.
With the match back on equal footing, Australia continued to press forward with the ball in the second half and it paid off with Ajdin Hrustic thundering in a powerful strike from the top of the box.
The midfielder’s strike took a deflection off the UAE defence following a corner from Aaron Mooy to seal the win for Australia. Hrustic who plays for German club Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga showed his flair in attack in what was a sublime outing for the 25-year-old and will no doubt earn him a positive appraisal from head coach Graham Arnold.
We made sure we stayed nice and compact the whole game.
Arnold was visibly nervous as the game began – walking back and forth on the sidelines barking instructions to his side. He said he was happy with his team’s efforts.
“Proud of the boys,” he said after the match. “We know they [UAE] would sit back and we didn’t want to play a game where we open up the field too much because they have got some quality players.
“We made sure we stayed nice and compact the whole game.”
The Aussies began proceedings with very passive passages of play, and the 4-4-2 formation designed to contain the attacking threats of their opposition, most notably in Abdalla.
As both sides began to work their way into the game the Aussies looked for an opening in the UAE defence. But, whilst they were able to create chances with some probing ball movement, chances failed to materialise.
Concerns about the tentative start to the match in the first half were quickly laid to rest as the Socceroo’s displayed some flamboyant ball movement, initiating more aggressive passages of play with the ball that ultimately led to the two goals.
It’s a style of play Australia will need to produce once again in the intercontinental play-offs against Peru to get into the World Cup. The Socceroos are set to join France, Denmark, and Tunisia in Group D should they win their clash on Monday night.
Main image screenshot courtesy Channel 10.