Last time the Caltex Socceroos played in Saudi Arabia

With the Caltex Socceroos involved in a crucial FIFA World Cup qualifier against Saudi Arabia next month, we recall the last time Australia made the trip to the Gulf nation.

In early September 2011 in steamy conditions at the Prince Mohammed Bin Fahad Stadium, Australia took control of their World Cup qualifying group with a 3-1 win in front of more than 15,000 in Dammam.

Striker Josh Kennedy turned out to be the hero for the Green and Gold, scoring a goal in each half before winning a penalty which iced the result.

After squeaking past Thailand 2-1 in Brisbane a few days earlier, Socceroos coach Holger Osieck made three changes to his starting line-up, replacing Tim Cahill, Matthew Spiranovic and Neil Kilkenny for Sasa Ognenovski, Michael Zullo and Mile Jedinak.

Goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, skipper Lucas Neill, Brett Emerton, Brett Holman and Carl Valeri were also in an experienced starting XI.

Socceroos v Saudi Arabia

While the Saudis made more attacking raids in the first half, it was the visitors who took the best chance of the opening stanza five minutes before the break.

Luke Wilkshire stood up a cross from the right, with Kennedy soaring above his defender to nod home from close range.

Then a defensive error from the Saudis 11 minutes from the break allowed Kennedy to double the Socceroos lead.

Brett Holman intercepted an attempted pass from Saudi goalkeeper Hasan Al Otaibi, finding Kennedy who finished clinically past the home keeper.

Australia were cruising but that all changed midway through the half when Zullo was adjudged to have brought down Naif Hamad Hazazi in the box, with Nassir Al Shamrani forcing the ball home after Schwarzer’s initial save from the spot.

It sparked a frenzied finish from the home side but Australia absorbed the pressure and eventually eased their nerves 13 minutes from time when Wilkshire blasted home from the spot.

Luke Wilkshire

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