Australia 4 Saudi Arabia 2
Australia overcame a spirited Saudi Arabia by four goals to two in the final game of the first qualifying group for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
The Socceroos had to come from behind to win the game in a purple patch in the second half during which they scored three times in three minutes.
The Saudis needed to win to be sure of qualifying and they took the game to Australia in the opening period. Moves were sharp and decisive, though Australia actually had the ball in the net after 4 minutes. Harry Kewell touched a header by Alex Brosque over the line from very close range but was offside when he did so.
The Saudis moved the ball around quickly and were very aggressive in attack, something which surprised coach Holger Osiek and his players.
In the 19th minute, Saleem Mohammed Aldawsari skipped along the edge of the defensive area with the Australians standing off until he fired the ball into the corner.
Australia did engineer some good breaks but for the most part they were trying to curb the Saudi’s attacks.
Two minutes before the scheduled end of the first half, Marco Bresciano fed Alex Brosque and the striker got away from the defence beating Osama Abdulzrag Hawsawi and then the keeper with his shot.
That lead only lasted till the last minute of time added on as Hassan Muath Fallatah came down the right and crossed for Nassir Ali Shamrani to beat Schwarzer for a second time. Again defenders stood off and paid the penalty.
Osiek and his opposite number Frank Rijkaard made no personnel changes at half-time but the Australians lifted their momentum and began to get a little more accuracy into their work.
Archie Thompson came off the bench for James Troisi in the 63rd minute and soon began posing problems for the Saudi backline.
They had looked very comfortable against two attackers, but three meant that gaps began to appear.
The Socceroos took full advantage and turned the match round with three goals in three minutes.
In the 73rd minute, Thompson put Alex Brosque away down the left and he cut the ball back to Harry Kewell who finished cleanly.
The Victory striker had come close on two or three occasions but this goal capped off one of his best games for Australia and of this season.
The crowd had hardly resumed their seats when Matthew Spiranovic sent a long ball from the back to release Brett Emerton who chipped the ball into the path of Brosque who buried his second goal.
A minute later, man of the match, Marco Bresciano fed Thompson then took the return and slid it through the defence where Emerton just held off Almousa, whose attempt to clear only glanced off the sliding Socceroo and finished in the net.
The Saudis were deflated by the sudden transformation of the game and though they fought it out to the end, it was a comfortable win in the end for Australia.
Frank Rijkaard said his team had kept possession and played well in difficult conditions (it rained throughout the match) and could with a little luck have gone to three-one up which would have changed the character of the game.
He was happy with the players’ effort but said that defeats and draws earlier in the campaign had prevented his team from qualifying.
Holger Osiek said his team was playing in a new formation with some players out of position so it took time for them to come to terms with that.
In the second half however ‘We got our stuff together, played through the channels with imagination, mobility and pace.’
He said the Saudis had great quality, but Australia had played as he wanted them to do in the second half.
There was a good crowd of 24,214 to make plenty of noise at AAMI Park.
It was a supreme pity that Frank Lowy decided to sack Gold Coast United on the afternoon of the match between the Socceroos and Saudi Arabia.
What was a dead rubber to the public became a sideshow to a stoush between the FFA and one of its club owners.
Wednesday 29 February 2012
Australia 4 (Alex Brosque 43’, 75’, Harry Kewell 73’, Brett Emerton 76’) Saudi Arabia 2 (Salem Mohammed Aldawsari 19’, Nassir Ali Al Shamrani 45 + 2’)
Venue: AAMI Park
Local kick-off: 8:30pm
Referee: KIM Dong Jin
Assistant referees: JEONG Hae Sang and Jang Jun Mo
Fourth official: KIM Jong Hyeok
1 Mark Schwarzer, 2 Lucas Neill, 4 Matthew Spiranovic, (3 David Carney 82’), 5 Jade North, 6 Sasha Ognenovski, 7 Brett Emerton, 8 Mark Milligan, 10 Harry Kewell, 11 James Troisi (9 Archie Thompson 63’), 20 Alex Brosque (16 Nick Carle 87’), 23 Marco Bresciano.
Unused substitutes: 12 Eric Paartalu, 13 Adam Sarota, 14 Michael Marrone, 15 Michael Thwaite, 18 Matt Ryan.
Yellow cards: Nil
Red cards: Nil
1 Waleed Abdullah Ali, 3 Osama Abdulrzag Hawsawi, 4 Abdulla Mohammed Aldossary, 7 Kamil Saddiq Almousa, 10 Mohammed Bandar Al Shalhoub (9 Naif Ahmed Hazazi 79’), 11 Nassir Ali Al Shamrani (Yasser Saeed Al Qahtani 72’), 12 Hassan Muath Fallatah, 14 Saud Ali Khariri, 15 Ahmed Mohammed Alfraidi (6 Ahmed Inrahin Ateef 66’), 17 Taiseer Jabir Al Jassam, 19 Salem Mohammed Aldawsari.
Unused substitutes: 2 Yasir Gharsan Al Shahrani, 5 Mohammed Eid Albishi, 8 Yahia Sulaiman Al Shehri, 13 Ibrahim Jahshan, 16 Yousef Mansour Al Salem, 18 Hamad Al Hamad, 21 Yasser Abdullah Al Mosailem, 22 Ahmed Ali al Kassar, 23 Kamil Omar Fallata
Yellow cards: 14 Saud Ali Khariri 62’, 11 Nassir Ali Al Shamrani 64’
Red cards: Nil