The 2006 FIFA World Cup is one that will live long in the memory for Socceroos fans, especially as it was Australia’s first appearance at the tournament in 32 years.
After the unforgettable win over Uruguay the previous November, Socceroos players and fans headed to Germany ready to show the world just what Australian football was all about.
After the dramatic – and memorable – first-up win over Japan was followed by a hard-fought loss to reigning World Champions Brazil, Guus Hiddink’s side faced a winner-takes-all clash with Croatia in the final group match to see who would advance to the last 16.
Needing just a draw to progress to the knockout stage, the Socceroos made the worst possible start as they fell behind inside two minutes through Darijo Srna’s sensational free-kick.
The early goal didn’t dent Australia’s confidence as they took the game to the European heavyweights and deservedly drew level before the break thanks to Craig Moore’s coolly converted penalty.
Croatia took the initiative again early in the second half after Niko Kovac’s shot slipped through the grasp of keeper Zeljko Kalac and into the net, giving Australia just over half an hour to find a response.
Wave after wave of green and gold attack followed before Harry Kewell scored what proved to be a ‘golden goal’ for the Socceroos 11 minutes from the end.
Mark Bresciano’s teasing cross was flicked on by John Aloisi, with Kewell getting on the end of it to lash the ball home before running off to celebrate one of the most important goals of his Socceroos career.
The drama wasn’t done there as Croatian defender Josip Simunic was sent off – after receiving a third yellow card – while Brett Emerton also saw red for the Socceroos but there was no more goals meaning Australia progressed to Round of 16.
The win sparked jubilant scenes in the stands and also back in Australia, with the image above showing celebrations of fans in Sydney in the early hours of the morning.
Where were you celebrating when Australia secured their passage to the last 16 in Germany in 2006?
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