Australia Goes Down Narrowly In Montevideo

Australia will have to come back from a one goal deficit if they are to make the finals of the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, after Uruguay won the first leg 1-0 at the Estadio Centenario.

Australia will have to come back from a one goal deficit if they are to make the finals of the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, after Uruguay won the first leg 1-0 at the Estadio Centenario.

The lone goal came in the 37th minute, when a brilliant free kick from danger man Alvaro Recoba found Dario Rodriguez at the far post, to head home from close range.

Despite the loss, Australia had their chances in the match and dominated for large parts, especially in the first half, and will go back to Sydney reasonably confident of getting a positive result in front of their home fans.

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Both teams will now make the long journey to Sydney for second leg in four days time at Telstra Stadium.

The best chances for Australia all came to captain Mark Viduka, who twice shaved the post with shots, while he also hit a powerful free kick that forced a flying save from Uruguayan keeper Fabian Carini.

Qantas Socceroo coach Guus Hiddink, while acknowledging the team played well, lamented his side-s inability not to score when dominating the game in the opening half hour.

"I am not that satisfied," said Guus Hiddink immediately after the game. "We dominated the first half but we weren't determined enough to finish it off and we got beaten at a sloppy moment on a free-kick.” "We played a very good game, but we had to finish it off. I am very proud of them.” Lucas Neill echoed Hiddink-s thoughts. "We are disappointed we didn't score, because we thought we had a couple of goals in us," Neill said.

Hiddink has no doubts that Uruguay will now come to Sydney looking to defend the lead.

”I think the Uruguayans will defend in Sydney. They know how to defend, that's why I have mixed feelings about the result.

Both Hiddink and his counterpart Jorge Fossati threw up some surprise selections with Tony Popovic, despite hardly playing this season with Crystal Palace, getting the nod ahead of Ljubo Milicevic.

Hiddink also gave starts to Harry Kewell and Archie Thompson, with Tim Cahill and Marco Bresciano starting from the bench.

Fossati gambled on the fitness of Diego Forlan, but it backfired with the Villarreal striker coming off after just 17 minutes.

Australia started brightly enough, not prepared to sit back and looking to get forward at every opportunity and take the game to the home team.

Viduka had the first decent chance of the match, when he somehow wriggled his way free of three defenders to make space for a chip shot that beat Carini, but just curled away from the far post.

Thompson and Viduka were causing the Uruguayan defence problems, with Diego Lopez especially struggling to control Viduka.

In the 12th minute, Viduka won a free kick at the defenders expense 25 metres out, with the Middlesbrough striker hitting a cracking drive that forced Carini to dive at full stretch to turn away for a corner.

Uruguay was mainly held to long range efforts early on with Recoba, a cause for concern whenever a dead ball situation arose.

He had one shot that beat the wall, but was safely held by Mark Schwarzer, while from a near post corner, the ball was flicked on and Carlos Diogo had a free header, but it went straight to Schwarzer.

Uruguay then started to get more ball in midfield and pressed the Australian defence that looked comfortable.

The turning point of the match came in the 36th minute of the match, when Scott Chipperfield was harshly judged to have shouldered Diogo off the ball, no matter that the Uruguayan had veered off his line to clatter into FC Basel midfielder.

Recoba whipped in an inswinging cross from the right, which found Rodriguez at the back post and he headed home from two yards.

Down a goal at the break, Australia was looking for a quick goal in the second half and was almost rewarded, when Chipperfield managed to get a cross from the by-line to Viduka, whose shot on the turn was inches of the near post and Carini beaten.

This seemed to set the tone for the half with play opening up, as Uruguay looked to put the game out of Australia-s reach.

Recoba managed to break clear from a Morales header, but Brett Emerton did enough to put the Uruguayan off and he shot wide of the near post.

Hiddink made his first change shortly after, bringing on Marco Bresciano for Thompson and pushing Kewell further forward.

It almost paid instant dividends with Bresciano taking a quick snap at goal from the edge of the box, the ball going narrowly over the crossbar.

Four minutes later, the whole of Uruguay shouted out for a penalty, when Recoba again got in behind the defence. Schwarzer raced off his line and as Recoba went round him the Inter Milan midfielder fell to the ground and pleaded for a penalty, but referee Claus Bo Larsen correctly waved play on, as replays showed that no contact was made.

Fossati then went to his bench, bringing off the ineffective Zalayeta for Fabian Estoyanoff and the injured Lopez for Guillermo Rodriguez.

Estoyanoff proved a constant menace wide on the right, forcing Chipperfield to drop back as a permanent defender.

Uruguay was now dominating and putting the Aussie defence under extreme defence.

With 15 minutes remaining, Schwarzer pulled off his best save of the match, denying Morales from close range, while two minutes later Jason Culina shaved the post with a long range shot that nearly had Australia level.

The last 10 minutes saw Uruguay up the ante on the Australian defence, getting wide and trying to use Morales height advantage.

But apart from one brief moment when an ambitious back header intended for Schwarzer found Recoba, whose chip was swatted away by the Aussie keeper for a corner, the defence kept its shape and held firm.

Importantly none of the seven Aussies players sitting on the threat of a card suspension received a booking and will be available for Wednesday nights game.

Aussie fans will now be looking for the Socceroos to do what Uruguay did to us four years ago in the return leg and that is return home and win the home leg comfortably and book a place in the finals for the first time in 32 years.

While Uruguay had to make a mad dash to the airport to get a connecting flight from Chile to Australia, the Australian players could relax in the knowledge they were leaving on its own charter flight, equipped to make sure the players have the best recovery possible.

Match Details

Uruguay 1 (Dario Rodriguez 37-) Australia 0

Uruguay Line-up: Fabian Carini (gk), Diego Lopez (Guillermo Rodriguez 63-), Paolo Montero, Dario Rodriguez, Carlos Diogo, Pablo Garcia, Diego Perez, Alvaro Recoba, Diego Forlan (Dario Silva 17-), Marcelo Zalayeta (Fabian Estoyanoff 63-), Richard Morales Subs Not used: Marcelo Sosa, Martin Parodi, Mario Regueiro, Sebastian Viera (gk)

Cautions: Dario Silva (23-), Dario Rodriguez (91-)

Australia Line-up: Mark Schwarzer (gk), Lucas Neill, Scott Chipperfield, Tony Vidmar, Tony Popovic, Brett Emerton, Mark Viduka (John Aloisi 80-), Harry Kewell, Vince Grella, Archie Thompson (Marco Bresciano 53-), Jason Culina Subs Not used: Tim Cahill, Josip Skoko, Ljubo Milicevic, Zeljko Kalac (gk), Luke Wilkshire

Cautions: Scott Chipperfield (30-), Tony Vidmar (71-)

Return leg is on Wednesday November 16 at Telstra Stadium, Sydney. Kick-off is at 8.00pm