‘I felt really confident’: How Hrustic used Europa League Final experience in Socceroos' shootout against Peru

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Having slotted home a penalty in Eintracht Frankfurt’s Europa League final shootout a month prior, Socceroos midfielder Ajdin Hrustic used that experience to boost his confidence before his spot kick against Peru. 

After coming on as an extra-time substitute in the Europa League final, Hrustic cooly slotted home a penalty in the German club’s 5-4 shootout success over Rangers in last month’s final in Seville.

Hrustic was widely praised for his penalty because Rangers converted their first two attempts so the 25-year-old needed to score to ensure Frankfurt remained level and he did just that with a superb strike to the bottom left corner.

Considering he had only just come onto the pitch, Hrustic's penalty was particularly impressive at such a pivotal moment.

Fresh from lifting the Europa League trophy, the 25-year-old then set his sights on taking the Socceroos to the World Cup, but little did he know his nation's fate would also be decided from the penalty spot. 

With the score locked at 0-0 after 120 minutes against Peru, Hrustic again had to step up from the spot to ensure Australia sealed a place at the FIFA World Cup 2022 Qatar™. 

Peru had just missed their first penalty in the shootout and Hrustic kept his never to send the goalkeeper the wrong way and calmly slot his spot kick into the bottom right of the net. 

Socceroos v Peru | Full Penalty Shootout | FIFA World Cup Playoff

Speaking to former Socceroo Archie Thompson and Network 10 broadcaster Michael Zappone on the Football From A to Z podcast, Hrustic explained how he used his Europa League experience to wrong-foot the Peru goalkeeper. 

“To be honest, I actually felt really confident,” Hrustic said. 

“Maybe it was because of the penalty shootout that we had with Frankfurt. When I walked up, I just felt calm and relaxed. 

“I was quite sure that I was going to put it away and I actually asked Maty before the game what the keeper was like on spot kicks. 

“He told me that he goes down quite early so I just took my time. I don’t know if you guys saw but I waited till the last step to see where his body would start off, to see if he was going to go left or right or hold in the middle. 

“Then I saw him slowly creeping to his right, which was my left, so I just put it in the other corner. It does sound easy, but it's not.”

While Hrustic held his nerve to score, it was substitute goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne who stole all the headlines with his match-winning save. 

In a decision that puzzled many at the time, Graham Arnold substituted Redmayne on for Mat Ryan in the final minute of extra-time. 

But destiny prevailed and Redmayne, dancing on the goal line just as he has done throughout his A-League Men career, stood up to save Alex Valera’s penalty and send Australia to the World Cup. 

Andrew Redmayne after saving the winning penalty to send Australia to the World Cup
Andrew Redmayne after saving the winning penalty to send Australia to the World Cup.

Hrustic explained just how hard it would have been to score a penalty against Redmayne while he was jumping about and waving his long arms. 

“He (Redmayne) did a great job with the way he stepped up,” Hrustic said. 

“He looked quite confident on the line. He did it to us in training so I was telling him afterwards that it's not easy. 

“It puts you off when you see a guy two metres tall with a beard two metres long jumping around on the line but he did amazing.”

Qualified Graphic World Cup 2022 Qatar Give It 100