WATCH: Hrustic volley seals 2-1 victory over UAE
The Socceroos have set up a winner-takes-all match-up against Peru after defeating the UAE 2-1 at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha to progress in FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ qualification.
Australia’s hopes of reaching the 2022 World Cup in Qatar remain firmly alive.
A late strike by Ajdin Hrustic secured a 2-1 win over UAE and sealed the Socceroos’ passage to the intercontinental play-off against Peru.
Despite suffering two injury blows late in the lead-up to the match with Trent Sainsbury and Adam Taggart both missing, Australia found a way to win.
Having debuted just last week in the friendly victory over Jordan, Graham Arnold opted for Kye Rowles to partner Bailey Wright in the centre of defence. Meanwhile, Mathew Leckie led the line in the absence of Taggart as Martin Boyle and Craig Goodwin provided support from the wings.
The Socceroos started the match in a positive fashion by dominating the share of possession and territory but they could not create an opening through the resolute UAE defence.
The first 30 minutes played out in the manner you would expect for a match with so much on the line. The UAE sat off the ball and invited the Socceroos to try and break them down but clear cut chances were scarce.
Australia whipped in a series of overhit crosses as they tried to force an opening while the UAE found space on the wings but they offered little cause for concern.
The desire not to concede an early goal was evident for both sides but the Socceroos managed to create a solid opportunity through a set piece with ten minutes remaining in the first half.
It was Goodwin who curled in a free-kick from the left side, Rowles came steaming in unmarked and rose highest but he could not make clean contact as his header skimmed wide.
In an instant, the UAE broke down the left and had a shot on target from Harib Abdalla, who shook off Nathaniel Atkinson and forced Mat Ryan into a reflex save from a tight angle.
The Socceroos shaded the possession stats 52% to UAE’s 48% with two shots each as the first half ended 0-0.
UAE came out for the second half with intent as they immediately found an opening down the left. Abdalla got in behind Atkinson again and drove towards the six-yard box to force a smart save from Ryan at his near post.
Despite the UAE’s positive start, Australia found the opening goal in the 52nd minute. Boyle broke down right and surged towards the line before fizzing a cross to Jackson Irvine, who neatly tucked the ball past the keeper with his right foot.
Less than three minutes later, the UAE levelled the score through Caio Canedo, who capitalised on a scramble in the box after Abdalla sent a cross towards the six-yard box.
Following the goals, the match began to open up. Irvine swung in a peach of a cross from the right to find Goodwin lurking at the back post but the Adelaide United man fired his volley just wide.
With 70 minutes gone, Hrustic found some space to drive in from the right but his curling left-footed effort flew high and wide of the top corner.
Just moments later, Arnold made his first substitution of the match. Goodwin came off for A-League Men Golden Boot winner Jamie Maclaren, who almost capitalised on a scramble in the box with immediate effect but Boyle fired just wide as he picked up the scraps.
Maclaren was in the action yet again with ten minutes to go. The Melbourne City striker found a shot from a tight angle that forced a solid save from Khalid Eisa in the UAE goal after being found by a one-two with Hrustic.
The resulting corner provided Australia with the match winning goal. Mooy’s corner was headed clear to the top of the box, where Hrustic was waiting to volley a powerful strike towards goal that deflected into the back of the net to hand the Socceroos a 2-1 advantage.
Arnold brought off Leckie and Hrustic to introduce Milos Degenek and Awer Mabil as the Socceroos secured the victory and set up a winner-takes-all match-up against Peru on Tuesday, June 14 at 4am (AEST).
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