Taggart fires Caltex Socceroos to historic victory & big FIFA World Cup qualifying lead
Adam Taggart’s sixth Caltex Socceroos goal has given Australia a historic 1-0 away win over Jordan to extend their lead to five points at the top of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying Group B.
The 26-year-old striker sparked his country’s first-ever away victory over Jordan when he opened the scoring with a superb first-time finish following a well-weighted through ball from Jackson Irvine in the 13th minute.
Australia dominated proceedings in the first half before Jordan worked their way back into the match in the second half.
However, the Caltex Socceroos held out for a historic 1-0 win to maintain their perfect record of four wins and 12 points in the second phase of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying.
MATCH CENTRE: Re-live play-by-play updates
Read and watch on below to see how the game unfolded.
After a cagey opening 13 minutes, Taggart gave Australia the lead with a composed first-time, left-footed finish over Jordan’s onrushing goalkeeper.
The Suwon Bluewings striker was played in behind Jordan’s defence by Irvine’s superbly weighted pass before he dinked the ball over Amer Shafi to notch his third goal in three FIFA World Cup qualifying games.
Jordan looked to hit back immediately, but Baha Abdel-Rahman’s free kick from 30 yards sailed way over the bar.
Australia were next to fire a free kick towards goal in the 24th minute, but Aaron Mooy’s shot from 25 yards didn’t trouble the goalkeeper.
Irvine almost had a goal of his own in the 30th minute when Milos Degenek headed on Mooy’s corner to the back-post, but the Hull City midfielder flashed his first-time shot over the bar.
Awer Mabil came close to doubling Australia’s lead minutes later when he met Brad Smith’s low, whipped ball at the back-post, but the winger’s close-range shot from a tight angle hit the side netting of the goal.
Smith found Mabil again with a cross in the 42nd minute before the attacker’s shot rebounded to Mooy at the top of the box, whose first-time attempt was deflected out of play.
Jordan had the first chance of the second half when Mousa Suleiman flashed a left-footed shot across the face of Mat Ryan’s goal from inside right side of the box.
Ryan was forced into a smart stop in the 60th minute when Yaseen Al Bakhit shot from close-range, but the Australian goalkeeper reacted quickly to palm the ball out.
Suleiman came close to firing on target from the resulting corner, but his left-footed strike across the face of the goal went wide of the target. Minutes later, Baha Seif also had an attempt, but his shot was off target.
In the 66th minute, Suleiman found Tareq Khattab with a cross at the back-post, but he failed to convert his header.
Mitch Duke came on to replace Taggart in the 70th minute before Martin Boyle made his long-awaited return from injury when he was substituted on for Awer Mabil in the 73rd minute.
Boyle looked to make an immediate impact, skipping past a few players before setting up Mooy, whose shot was deflected out for a corner.
Boyle was lively to win a free kick in the 77th minute, before Tom Rogic, who was playing his first Caltex Socceroos game in nine months, fired it over the bar.
Ryan made a superb low save down to his left minutes later when he reacted quickly to push the ball wide following Hamza Al-Dardoor’s header from point-blank range. However, Al-Dardoor was flagged for offside.
The Caltex Socceroos shotstopper was forced to make two late saves in the final minutes, but he was able to deny Ahmad Ersan and Yaseen Al Bakhit.
Australia held on for a 1-0 win – their first away victory over Jordan – with their next match against Kuwait at home in March.
KEY OPTA STATISTICS
o Australia have won four consecutive matches across all competitions for the first time since March 2016, a run that included a 5-1 victory against Jordan in a FIFA World Cup Qualifier.
o Australia (alongside Syria and Japan) are one of only three sides to have won each of their opening four FIFA World Cup qualifiers (in second round qualifying) for the 2022 tournament, whilst only Iran (17) have scored more goals than the Caltex Socceroos (16).
o Taggart has scored in back-to-back appearances for Australia (three goals), with his opener ending Jordan’s run of 282 minutes without conceding in all competitions.
o Since the start of Graham Arnold’s second stint in charge of Australia (July 2018), the Caltex Socceroos have kept eight clean sheets in 14 games, conceding just seven goals in total.
o Irvine has been directly involved in six goals for Australia in 2019 (two goals & four assists) - more than any other player for the Caltex Socceroos this calendar year.