Socceroos edge out Palestine clash to stay perfect in World Cup qualifying
The Subway Socceroos edged out Palestine 1-0 in Kuwait City on Wednesday morning to keep their perfect World Cup qualifying campaign intact.
Harry Souttar scored the winner midway through the first period with another towering header for Australia in a tough battle for Graham Arnold’s men.
Australia were put under pressure early, struggling to get into their flow with Palestine going close six minutes in. Tamer Seyam’s free-kick from the right corner of the box needing to be batted away at the near post by Mathew Ryan.
The Socceroos had a chance of their own five minutes later when Connor Metcalfe lined up from range, but the ball bounced into Rami Hamada’s gloves.
The side put their tricky start behind them, opening the scoring in the 18th minute with the same combination as a few days ago against Bangladesh in Melbourne.
Craig Goodwin’s inswinging corner from the right met Souttar close in, the defender directing his header past Hamada for his 10th goal in Australian colours.
Australia built up well from the back, half an hour in and nearly added a second. Goodwin’s curling left-sided cross found Metcalfe at the far post, but his volley was straight at Hamada.
They nearly gave up their lead just before the break when a right-sided corner dropped to Seyam at the near post, but Ryan pulled off a brilliant, brave save to prevent the equaliser.
A moment from a set piece proved to be the difference in the first half as the Socceroos went into halftime with a narrow lead in Kuwait.
Australia continued to have difficulty creating chances at the start of the second half as possession high up the field remained limited. The visitors conjured up another couple of opportunities just after the hour mark as two substitutes could have made an instant impact.
Some neat link-up between Mitchell Duke and Brandon Borrello saw the latter race in on goal, forcing Hamada to tip his shot around the left post. The Socceroos went even closer from the resulting set piece as an unmarked Jordan Bos got on the end of Metcalfe’s left-sided corner, rattling the crossbar.
Palestine consistently looked threatening, particularly in transition, and almost scored 72 minutes in, when Oday Dabbagh’s shot deflected wide of the left post from inside the box.
Pressure built on the Socceroos in the final 15 regular minutes, with the side desperate to hold on to their slender lead in Kuwait, as Palestine flooded numbers forward.
It was a rigid display at the back for Australia, with Souttar and Kye Rowles defending balls into the box with a series of important interventions. The team went on to secure a vital three points against Palestine to make it two-from-two in World Cup qualifying.
Subway Socceroos 1 (Harry Souttar 18’)
Date: Wednesday, 22 November 2023
Venue: Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium, Kuwait City
Palestine: 22. Rami Hamada, 7. Musab Al Battat, 15. Michel Termanini, 5. Mohammed Saleh, 12. Camilo Saldana, 23. Ataa Jaber, 3. Mohammed Rashid (6. Oday Karoub 74’), 13. Mahmoud Abuwarda, 9. Tamer Seyam (21. Islam Batran 81’), 20. Zaid Qunbar (19. Mahmoud Wadi 87’), 11. Oday Dabbagh
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Amr Kaddoura, 16. Naim Abu Aker, 2. Mohammed Khalil, 4. Yasser Hamed, 14. Al-Mahdi Issa, 17. Mousa Farawi, 8. Mohammed Yamin, 10. Saleh Chihadeh, 18. Hassan Alaa Aldeen
Yellow Cards: Camilo Saldana 77’
Red Cards: Nil
Subway Socceroos: 1. Mathew Ryan, 2. Ryan Strain (20. Lewis Miller 23’), 19. Harry Souttar, 4. Kye Rowles, 16. Aziz Behich, 17. Keanu Baccus (14. Aiden O’Neill 90+3’), 22. Jackson Irvine, 8. Connor Metcalfe, 6. Martin Boyle (11. Brandon Borrello 61’), 23. Craig Goodwin (5. Jordan Bos 61’), 15. Mitchell Duke (9. Jamie Maclaren 90+3’)
Substitutes Not Used: 12. Joe Gauci, 18. Ashley Maynard-Brewer, 3. Cameron Burgess, 13. Alessandro Circati, 7. Sam Silvera, 10. Kusini Yengi, 21. Massimo Luongo
Yellow Cards: Kye Rowles 69’
Red Cards: Nil