Australia gained a World Cup sport for less than the third time of their historical past with a dogged 1-0 victory over Tunisia on Saturday to revive their last-16 hopes. Striker Mitch Duke scored the one purpose of a good sport with a intelligent header within the first half and Australia then desperately held on to silence Tunisia’s vociferous followers. Australia sit second in Group D with three factors from two video games, having been well-beaten 4-1 by holders France of their tournament-opener. The Socceroos face Denmark — who play France later Saturday — of their last group sport and the knockout spherical is in sight.
Their greatest World Cup efficiency got here in 2006 when additionally they reached the final 16, within the days of Tim Cahill, Harry Kewell and Mark Viduka. Graham Arnold’s Australia haven’t got gamers of that ilk however they’ve a lot of coronary heart and kicked off to deafening whistles in entrance of 42,000 at Al Janoub Stadium, the place their followers have been closely outnumbered.
Every Australia contact was met with whistles from the throbbing ranks of Tunisia’s bouncing, bellowing and flag-waving supporters. Australia had solely ever gained two matches on the World Cup earlier than this and squeezed into this version through a playoff.
However they began the higher towards a Tunisia group who held Denmark 0-0 of their opener and want to attain the knockout stage for the primary time.
The match was being proven on primetime Saturday evening tv in Australia and viewers noticed their gritty facet dominate the primary quarter-hour, with out mustering a shot. Tunisia had the primary sniff of purpose within the nineteenth minute however skipper Youssef Msakni was squeezed out, then defender Mohamed Drager blazed over.
Within the twenty third minute Australia took the lead their possession deserved. Craig Goodwin, who scored the opener within the loss to France, crossed from the left and the ball ricocheted for Duke to look his header again over his personal shoulder and into the online.
The Japan-based centre-forward, 31, exchanged indignant phrases with the Tunisian bench when he was bundled over on the half-hour mark. The skirmish led to a shake of the hand with substitute Hannibal Mejbri, the Manchester United teenager.
One other English-based participant, defender Harry Souttar of Stoke Metropolis, made a heroic last-ditch block from the damaging Msakni as half-time approached. Tunisia’s followers had their heads of their palms in harm time when Msakni lastly escaped Souttar, solely to sidefoot extensive from shut vary.
Coach Jalel Kadri introduced off Drager on the break and changed him with a midfielder, Ferjani Sassi, and a match that had simmered as much as that time threatened to boil over. Australia have been taking part in on the break and have been inches away from a second however Mathew Leckie couldn’t join on a low cross as he slid in entrance of purpose.
Minutes later goalkeeper and skipper Mathew Ryan denied Msakni from shut vary and Australia nearly held on underneath intense stress to go away Tunisia’s World Cup marketing campaign in serious trouble.
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