Bresciano clinches dramatic last minute winner

Australia has produced the classic smash and grab raid on Bahrain, with Mark Bresciano scoring a dramatic last minute goal to break the hearts of the home players and supporters.

Australia has produced the classic smash and grab raid on Bahrain, with Mark Bresciano scoring a dramatic last minute goal to break the hearts of the home players and supporters.

Down and outplayed by Bahrain for 92 minutes, Bresciano suddenly found himself in behind the Bahrain defence with just seconds left on the clock and after appearing to delay his shot too long, he kept his nerve to beat Sayed Jaafar and secure the 1-0 win.

The win maintains Australia-s unbeaten start to the 2010 World Cup qualifiers - Round 4 and sees them maintain their lead at the top of the group standings, with a perfect 9 points.

The result however was anything, but deserved for Australia, who struggled on the bumpy pitch and to contain a desperate Bahrain side that were battling for their World Cup lives. There is little doubt the Bahrain players would be shattered not to have got something from the game, after having much the better of the play throughout.

“No excuses,” said a forthright Pim Verbeek, who continually cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines during the match. “Our preparation was good in the lead up to the game, but from the first moment on, we were not good enough.”

“We should have done much better.”

Asked if the win meant his team had one foot in the door to South Africa, he was fairly frank, “If we keep playing like this, no.”

Despite missing four key players, Bahrain defied the odds and as the game wore on their confidence grew. Jaycee John was a constant handful for the Australian defence and had a number of chances, while across the park they outmuscled and outplayed their more illustrious opponents.

While Bresciano took the plaudits with his last minute winner, Australia can once again thank its No.1 Mark Schwarzer for keeping them in the game, as he made several saves in the first half to keep his side in the game.

In the 10th minute, Abdulla Fatadi weaved his way into the box and hit a fierce shot from an acute angle, which Schwarzer parried down.

Long balls were causing the Australian defence all sorts of problems, with John-s strong physical presence giving Bahrain a threatening outlet.

In the 19th minute, he had the chance the give his side the lead, when he broke through into the penalty area, but his shot was well blocked by Schwarzer, who was clearly the busier of the two keepers.

Australia looked lethargic and too many times turned over cheap possession, while Kennedy was well shackled as the target man up front. The first real attempt on goal by Australia did not arrive until 39 minutes into the match, when Harry Kewell raced in to meet David Carney-s cross, but he could only guide it wide of the goal from 7 yards.

A minute either side of the halftime break, Salman Isa had chances to break the deadlock, the first, pulling his shot across the face of goal and the second hitting into the side-netting.

Australia looked a little better in the first 15 minutes after the break and Carney had a golden opportunity to score after 59 minutes when he received a neat cutback from Kennedy. But Carney from only six yards out, blazed his shot into the side-netting.

From that moment on it was pretty much all Bahrain, as they pressed looking for the winning goal they so desperately needed.

John was inches away from connecting to an Isa cross in the 68th minute, while Fatadi-s shot took a deflection and went wide for a corner in the 76th minute.

Bahrain coach Milan Micala threw caution to the wind, sending on attacking substitutes and Abdulla Aldakeel-s introduction almost paid instant dividends in the 89th minute, when his shot on the turn went just wide of Schwarzer-s near post.

However just when Australia looked to be hanging on for dear life, somehow they managed to come up with a winner on the back of rare Bahrain mistake. Schwarzer-s long clearance saw the ball come off a Bahrain head towards his own goal. Mohamed Husain-s moment of hesitancy saw him lose control of the ball and Bresciano pounced to race into the box, keep himself composed and finished with aplomb, much to the shock of almost everyone inside the stadium.

Schwarzer did have to make one last ditch save to deny Bahrain a deserved equaliser to make it three wins from three matches and a step closer to South Africa in 2010.

The loss now sees Bahrain hopes of qualifying automatically for the finals almost disappear, but still remain in contention for the third place play-off.

In the other match, Japan proved too good for Qatar in Doha.

Match Details

Bahrain 0 Australia 1 (Mark Bresciano 93-)

Australian line-up: Mark Schwarzer (gk), Lucas Neill, Tim Cahill (Mile Sterjovski 86-), Jason Culina, Luke Wilkshire, Josh Kennedy, Harry Kewell (Brett Holman 71-), David Carney, Chris Coyne (Jade North 68-), Carl Valeri, Mark Bresciano Subs not used: Mile Jedinak, Bruce Djite, Shane Stefanutto, Michael Petkovic (gk)

Cautions: Coyne