Socceroos vs UAE, AFC World Cup 2022 Qualifiers, results, score, news, Socceroos vs Peru
The Socceroos are just one win away from qualifying for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, having beaten the United Arab Emirates 2-1 in a thrilling Asian qualifier on Wednesday morning.
Australia were on their feet after a tentative and conservative first-half performance thankfully went unpunished. But things changed just eight minutes into the second half as the Socceroos seemed to come out of nowhere.
Winning the ball upfield, winger Martin Boyle danced and snuck past a defender and whipped a low cross for midfielder Jackson Irvine to strike home at the near post.
The lead evaporated almost as quickly as it came, when the UAE equalized three minutes later. Centre-back Bailey Wright was beaten in the flank by dangerous teenage winger Harib Abdalla, who whipped a cross that was deflected into Caio Canedo’s way home.
But the Socceroos had woken up from their first half malaise and were beginning to threaten with more regularity. Irvine almost ensured Australia regained the lead in the 63rd minute when he fired in a cross from the right flank. He found left winger Craig Goodwin at the far post but the Adelaide United star managed to miss the golden chance from close range.
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Midfielder Ajdin Hrustic, fresh off a Europa League title with Eintracht Frankfurt, restored the lead in the 84th minute when a corner bounced off him at the edge of the box. He pushed the half-volley back into the center of the goal, only for a deflection over the six-yard line to send it into the back of the net.
The Socceroos will now face Peru on Tuesday morning (4:00 a.m. AEST), also in Doha, for a place in the World Cup proper.
Victory would then secure qualification for a fifth consecutive World Cup – and a $15 million FIFA qualification prize. But against a murderous Peru team, the Socceroos still face the very real possibility of missing out on football’s premier competition for the first time in two decades.
Asked about the Socceroos’ wary clash and poor first half, Irvine said at 10: “That’s how games go sometimes, you can feel that wary environment. We chose our times well and when we We’ve had some quality moments, we’ve enjoyed them, and in games like this it’s going to come down to nice margins.
“We obviously gave up a goal which was disappointing but we knew we had enough in the key moments to win the game and obviously happy to have taken one myself.”
Irvine added: “Obviously it’s a great feeling, but you have that moment of elation when the final whistle sounds and then straight away you’re focused, it’s half-time and it’s a great result which means we can go into the week full of confidence.
“As I said, the job is only half done and we will have a tough week of preparation again. Recover, get ready to go again. We have a great team with good energy around us and I’m already excited for next week.
Hrustic said: “We put in so much work and we worked hard so to speak. And we conceded a goal and we shouldn’t have. We kept going, we kept fighting and we took our chance, and the goal for Australia was for all the boys, for the staff, because we’ve been through a lot and it hasn’t been easy. I don’t think everyone realizes how much work we put into it, so I’m happy, really happy.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The Socceroos fielded a surprise starting XI with two youngsters making just one appearance each in defensive duo Kye Rowles and Nathaniel Atkinson, while veteran winger Mat Leckie started at centre-forward.
It came after the Socceroos suffered three pre-game injuries with Jason Davidson, Trent Sainsbury and Adam Taggart missing through injury, after Tom Rogic previously pulled out of the squad for personal reasons.
In a lackluster first half, the Socceroos managed just two shots – none on target – and were conservative and slow in possession. As has been the case for much of the qualifying campaign, Australia’s best chances came from crosses, particularly from set pieces.
Martin Boyle showed flashes of danger when he whipped a low cross in the opening five minutes, and he found Jackson Irvine 15 minutes later with a floating cross, although midfield’s header sailed wide. Craig Goodwin was deeply fouled on the left wing in the 34th minute, and the Adelaide United star sent a sublime free-kick that grazed the head of an unmarked Kye Rowles – undoubtedly the Australia’s best opportunity from a bad first half.
The United Arab Emirates had the better chances of the first half after finding themselves behind Australian full-back Atkinson on several occasions, in particular thanks to the fast and aggressive 19-year-old Harib Abdalla, who forced three times Mat Ryan to make close range saves.
The Socceroos have constantly struggled to penetrate the Emirati defence, which can be explained in part by a significant tactical change from Graham Arnold to keep the two full-backs in a more defensive position in a bid to negate the counter threat. UAE attack.
Harib Abdalla needed less than five minutes in the second half to find the ball in a dangerous position in the penalty area and past Atkinson to unleash another attempt from a tight angle – pulling off Ryan’s best save yet.
It took a moment of magic for Martin Boyle to break the deadlock. Seemingly out of nowhere, the Socceroos took possession of the ball high up the pitch in the 53rd minute. Boyle – having had almost no opportunity to run against the defenders in the first half – seized the moment with both hands, beating a defender to the touchline and crackling a low cut into the penalty area.
Midfielder Jackson Irvine arrived at the near post and brought it home, his seventh goal in 47 international appearances.
Three minutes later, Irvine was an unwitting figure in the UAE equaliser. Harib Abdalla – so far the game’s most influential player – again found the ball deep on the left flank. He took on Bailey Wright, who received no support from fellow defenders, and whipped out a cross. It bounced off Irvine at the edge of the penalty area and Caio slammed the ball into the roof of the net.
Then, in the 63rd minute, Craig Goodwin got the end of a sensational cross from Jackson Irvine. But Goodwin’s rushing shot to the far post was horrendous, wasting a golden chance to regain the lead.
But the Socceroos were pushing higher and higher up the pitch. Boyle was gaining influence and just before the 70th minute he won a corner after another labyrinthine run past the defence. The resulting corner found Kye Rowles at the far post but his header was easily saved.
Shortly after, Ajdin Hrustic cut inside from the right flank and unleashed a wild curling shot, a positive sign nonetheless given his long-range ability.
Striker Jamie Maclaren was introduced in place of Goodwin with 18 minutes left and almost scored within two minutes.
Full-back Behich made a rare foray forward and collected a long ball from Hrustic on the line before throwing a bouncing ball to Maclaren just eight yards from goal. Maclaren struggled to control the difficult ball, and a defender’s diving lunge pushed it into Boyle, the ball bouncing for a goal kick.
Maclaren’s movement and quick passing made an impact. He launched a triangle pattern with Hrustic and Boyle in the 80th minute, with Hrustic playing a delightful ball into the box. Maclaren confidently hit the volley towards goal despite a tight angle, making a save.
But in the 84th minute it was Hrustic, who was atypically calm throughout the game, who turned the game around. The ball bounced off the edge of the box and the midfielder fired a rocket straight at the keeper – only for a defender’s deflection to send it cruelly into the net.
It was the 25-year-old’s third strike for the green and the gold.
The UAE desperately pushed forward as Arnold turned to his bench in the death, bringing another defender to Milos Degenek and fresh legs to Awer Mabil in stoppage time.
Martin Boyle said: “It was difficult. It was hard but the most disappointing, when we scored, we immediately cashed.
“But we showed good character, I think we dominated the majority of the game. Matty made some good saves at the near post, but I thought we were really good and took risks when they came.
Coach Graham Arnold opted to reward players who had played consistently for their clubs this season – with two key exceptions to the rule in veteran duo Mat Ryan and Aaron Mooy.
Captain Mat Ryan starts in goal.
In defence, youngster Nathaniel Atkinson starts at right-back for only his second cap, beating Italian Fran Karacic.
In the center of defense, Bailey Wright and Kye Rowles resume their combination from last week’s friendly win over Jordan, with 50-cap veteran Aziz Behich on the left side of defence.
Wright recently helped Sunderland to promotion to the Championship, but last week was his first international appearance since October 2019.
In midfield, Aaron Mooy starts as expected, with Ajdin Hrustic and Jackson Irvine completing the central trio.
This sees Martin Boyle and Craig Goodwin on the wings with Mathew Leckie up front.
Goodwin started the game on the left wing, with Leckie at center and Boyle on the right flank.
In 24 appearances for Melbourne City this season, Leckie has played on the wing every time.
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