Socceroos Hold Own Against Uruguay

The Socceroos were narrowly defeated by Uruguay at Telstra Stadium tonight. Uruguay came from a goal down to take the lead 13 minutes from the end, before surviving a strong finish from the home side.

The Socceroos were narrowly defeated 2-1 by Uruguay at Telstra Stadium tonight. Uruguay came from a goal down to take the lead 13 minutes from the end, before surviving a strong finish from the home side.

The result was cruel to an Australian side that more than matched their more experienced and credentialed Uruguayan opponents throughout the entire 90 minutes.

Australia had opened the scoring after six minutes, through Mile Sterjovski, but the scores were level in the 40th minute when Diego Forlan pounced from close range. The match was delicately poised, until an unfortunate error by Australian keeper Brad Jones in the 77th minute allowed Uruguay to grab the eventual winner.

However while the result left a ‘sour taste- in Graham Arnold-s mouth after the match, he couldn-t fault the performance of his young team, with several doing their chances of playing at the Asian Cup finals in July no harm at all.

While the five World Cup players, led by example, the likes of Michael Thwaite, Patrick Kisnorbo, Brett Holman, Scott McDonald and Carl Valeri all performed with distinction, on what was a tough and often testyrid night against ‘Los Celeste-.

Australia started superbly controlling possession and looking to get down the flanks, particularly on the left to expose Diogo.

Sterjovski proved to be his tormentor in the opening half and it was the FC Basel midfielder, who provided the perfect start for the home side.

Emerton did brilliantly down the right to beat two defenders; sending in a low cross that caused confusion in the Uruguay defence. After several swipes at the ball by Sterjovski in the six-yard box, he managed to get clear and smash the ball home.

Thwaite then showed what this match meant when he lunged late at Pablo Garcia, which saw both teams come together and earn the Australian a yellow card.

Sterjovski was giving Diogo a torrid time to further emphasise his value to this team since his exploits at the World Cup last year.

While it took some time, Recoba started to impose himself on the match and in the 22nd minute almost set up an equaliser for his team. His low, swinging cross was flicked on at the near post, which found Vicente Sanchez who hit the bar with his header, but he was offside in any case.

A lively Holman played himself into a goal scoring position shortly afterwards, but a brilliant tackle by Garcia robbed him as he was about to shoot.

While Recoba looked threatening on the break, it was Australia who still controlled the majority of play and but for some poor final passes, could have exposed the Uruguay defence.

Uruguay looked most threatening at set pieces from Recoba and Australia had a warning in the 35th minute when Lugano headed inches wide from a Recoba cross.

Minutes later the scores were level when a quick free kick on the left, found Recoba on the right and his skidding low cross beat three Australian players including Jones, with Forlan gleefully poking home from close range.

Buoyed by the goal, Uruguay almost had the lead at half time, with another dangerous Recoba free kick, headed by Dario Rodriguez, which took a slight deflection off Neill, forcing a good save from Jones.

The second half saw Uruguay up the tempo somewhat, with Australia unable to enjoy the possession they did in the first half.

However chances were few and far between with an Emerton free kick going well wide on the hour mark, the first shot in anger of the half.

Australia's defence had some nervous moments soon after when Rodriguez had a shot deflected over the top of the bar.

Wilkshire showed he was no mug from the dead ball, curling a 25 metre free kick towards the top corner, which Fabian Carini did well to gather.

But three minutes later came the turning point, when Jones dropped, what looked like a routine take from a Guillermo Giacomazzi cross, which fell perfectly for Recoba, who couldn-t believe his luck and headed into the empty net.

Substitute Nick Carle provided some spark for Australia and did well on the edge of the 18-yard box to tee up, McDonald. His low cross, across the six-yard line somehow beat everyone.

McDonald then had the best chance to equalise, when he was able to go one-on-one on a quick counter. But forced onto his left foot, McDonald-s shot from outside of the area, sailed high and wide.

Australia had several chances with free kicks in the dying minutes, but Carini stood tall for Uruguay to keep the home side out and in some ways exact a little revenge for their 2005 World Cup qualifying loss at the same venue 20 months ago.

Coach Graham Arnold was naturally disappointed with the result, but pleased with many aspects of the performance.

"Overall it was a good performance," Arnold told Fox Sports after the game. "The result does leave a sour taste though.

"Over the 90 minutes, I thought we matched them. The young boys didn't take a backward step and I think it (the performance) showed we are heading down the right path for the future."

Match Details

Australia 1 (Mile Sterjovski 6-) Uruguay 2 (Diego Forlan 40-, Alvaro Recoba 77-)

Australian line-up: Brad Jones (gk); Lucas Neill, Patrick Kisnorbo (Daniel Allsopp 84-), Jason Culina (Nick Carle 70-), Brett Emerton, Brett Holman (Archie Thompson 62-), Luke Wilkshire, Scott McDonald, Carl Valeri, Michael Thwaite, Mile Sterjovski (Ryan Griffiths 54-) Subs Not Used: Shane Stefanutto, Michael Beauchamp, Simon Colosimo, Adam Federici (gk), Matthew Spiranovic

Cautions: Thwaite, Emerton, Wilkshire

Referee: Roberto Rosetti (Italy)