Draw sees Australia through to second round

Australia is through to the second round of the 2006 World Cup finals after drawing 2-2 with Croatia is an amazing match at the Gottlieb- Daimler Stadium in Stuttgart

Australia is through to the second round of the 2006 World Cup finals after drawing 2-2 with Croatia is an amazing match at the Gottlieb- Daimler Stadium in Stuttgart.

The Socceroos twice came from behind, with Harry Kewell scoring the dramatic equaliser in the 79th minute and they held on in a chaotic final 10 minutes, to advance to a meeting with Italy in four days time.

It was a match that had everything and Australia fully deserved the point, haven taken the game to Croatia, despite going behind to a 2nd minute goal from Darijo Srna.

Craig Moore equalised from the penalty spot in the 38th minute, only for Croatian captain Niko Kovac to put Croatia back in the lead after 56 minutes after a bad mistake by Zeljko Kalac.

But persistent pressure finally paid off for Australia and Kewell, who had a great game, scored from close range after a John Aloisi flick on.

It was a match that had everything, a breathtaking start, determined fight back, a massive mistake by Kalac, who was chosen ahead of Mark Schwarzer, another deserved equaliser, three red cards and one that wasn-t given in normal time, plus a disallowed winner for John Aloisi as the referee blew full time.

The win was not only built on pride in the Aussie shirt, but tonight Australia showed they belong at this level with a display that will have the Italian-s very wary next Monday afternoon in Kaiserslautern.

The decisive moment for Australia came in the 79th minute, when a cross from substitute Marco Bresciano was flicked on by another substitute John Aloisi. The ball was controlled brilliantly by Kewell at the far post and he then slammed it home.

The match ended in dramatic fashion and some confusion, with ex-Australian Joe Simunic appearing to be shown the yellow card in the last five minutes, but somehow remaining on the field. He was eventually sent off after the final whistle, for remarks made to referee Graham Poll.

Brett Emerton will miss the match against Japan, after he received yellow cards in six minutes, his dismissal coming just two minutes after Dario Simic was sent off, also for two yellow cards.

Moore also had to make a clearance off the line with three minutes of normal time remaining.

Australian coach Guus Hiddink again showed he was prepared to make bold selections, when he decided to put Zeljko Kalac in goals, while Harry Kewell came in for Tony Popovic in a much standard 4-4-2 formation.

However Kalac won-t look back on his first World Cup match with too much fondness, with his first action of the night to pick the ball out of the back of the net, following Srna-s delightful free kick.

But worse was to follow, when in the 56th minute, Kalac went down to take a shot by Kovac, only for the ball to role over his body and into the back of the net.

Kewell should have scored shortly before his equaliser, when he had an effort from right in front palmed over the bar.

Australia showed terrific fight in the first half, after going down early, dominating play and continually putting the Croatian defence under pressure.

Viduka should have had a penalty in the 7th minute when he was clearly rugby tackled by Simunic to the ground

Australia though put the setback behind as they looked the more adventurous going forward and getting several half chances.

On the half hour mark, Stipe Pletikosa came to the rescue of his team twice, saving a Cahill header and then an excellent stop to deny a Kewell rocket from the edge of the penalty box. Culina then tried his luck from 22 yards, but was wide, but it wasn-t long before Australia was to get the luck its play deserved.

Another raid down the right saw Emerton float a ball to the penalty spot and Dario Simic handled, with Poll not hesitating to award the spot kick. Former captain, Craig Moore stepped up and made no mistake.

This did not stop Australia from attacking though and a great run by Chipperfield down the left created an opening for Viduka, but he could not get enough power on the header.

Dado Prso should have given his team the lead right on half time though, but he sliced his shot wide on a slight angle.

Match Details

Australia 2 (Moore 38- pen, Kewell 79-) Croatia (Srna 2-, Kovac 56-)

Australia Line-up: Zeljko Kalac (gk); Lucas Neill, Craig Moore, Tim Cahill, Jason Culina, Brett Emerton, Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, Vince Grella (John Aloisi 63-), Scott Chipperfield (Joshua Kennedy 75-), Mile Sterjovski (Marco Bresciano 71-) Subs not used: Mark Schwarzer (gk), Josip Skoko, Stan Lazaridis, Ante Covic (gk), Michael Beauchamp, Archie Thompson, Luke Wilkshire, Mark Milligan, Unavailable: Tony Popovic (calf)

Cautions: Brett Emerton (81- & 87-) Expulsions: Brett Emerton (87-)

Croatia Line-up: Stipe Pletikosa (gk); Darijo Srna, Josip Simunic, Igor Tudor, Dario Simic, Marko Babic, Dado Prso, Niko Kovac (c), Stjepan Tomas (Ivan Klasnic 83-), Ivica Olic (Luka Modric 74-), Niko Kranjcar (Jerko Leko 65-) Subs From: Jurica Vranjes, Mario Tokic, Joe Didulica (gk), Ivan Leko, Anthony Seric, Bosko Balaban, Ivan Bosnjak, Tomislav Butina (gk) Unavailable: Robert Kovac (suspended)

Cautions: Simic (32-), Tudor (38-), Simunic (61-), Pletikosa (70-), Simic (85-), Simunic (93-) Expulsions: Simic (85-), Simunic (93-)