Socceroos beat UAE in World Cup playoff

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The Socceroos are one win away from qualifying for this year’s World Cup after beating the UAE in Doha.

The Socceroos’ World Cup qualifying dream remains alive after a 2-1 playoff win over the United Arab Emirates in Doha.

A spectacular volley from Ajdin Hrustic – aided by a deflection off UAE midfielder Ali Salmeen – broke a 1-1 deadlock in the 84th minute.

While the UAE’s hopes of World Cup qualification are now over, the Socceroos live to fight another day.

That day comes next Tuesday morning (AEST) when the Socceroos meet Peru, also in Doha, in the intercontinental playoff, from which the winner will qualify for the November 21-December 18 World Cup.

The Socceroos had taken 1-0 lead through Jackson Irvine in the 53rd minute before Caio Canedo equalised for the UAE just four minutes later.

It was then left to Hrustic to provide the moment of magic with a stinging left-footed volley from the edge of the penalty area after an Aaron Mooy corner was only partially cleared by the UAE.

Australia’s second-half performance was a vast improvement from their first-half effort, with the Socceroos creating next to nothing in the opening stanza.

Their best first-half chance came from a dead-ball situation in the 35th minute.

Left winger Craig Goodwin delivered a dangerous free-kick that was met by unmarked centre-back Kye Rowles.

However Rowles couldn’t make proper connection with his header, failing to hit the target.

The UAE had the best two chances of the first half, with left winger Harib Abdalla twice getting behind Socceroos right back Nathaniel Atkinson.

On both occasions Abdalla charged towards goal on angled runs before unleashing near-post shots that were saved by Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan.

Abdalla against tested Ryan in the first five minutes of the second half.

But them somewhat against the run of play, the Socceroos went ahead eight minutes after half-time through Irvine.

The dangerous Martin Boyle was the creator, with the right winger working his way to the by-line before cutting the ball back into the path of Irvine, who scored tapped the ball home at the near post.

However, the Socceroos’ joy was short-lived, with the UAE equalising four minutes later through Brazil-born marksman Canedo.

Abdalla was the provider with a dangerous cross that the Socceroos failed to clear.

The ball fell for Canedo, who finished clinically with his left foot.

The Socceroos should have regained the lead in the 63rd minute when Irvine crossed to the far post, finding an unmarked Craig Goodwin.

But the Adelaide United star inexplicably failed to hit the target from point-blank range.

However, the Socceroos eventually found their winner through Hrustic, keeping Australia’s hopes alive of a fifth successive World Cup finals tournament appearance.

The Socceroos made six changes to the team that started in last week’s 2-1 friendly win over Jordan,

In came fullbacks Atkinson and Aziz Behich, midfielders Irvine and Hrustic, and forwards Boyle and Mathew Leckie.

Out of the starting team went Fran Karacic, Jason Davidson, Kenny Dougall, Riley McGree, Awer Mabil and Nick D’Agostino.

Australia 2 (Irvine 53’, Hrustic 84’) d United Arab Emirates 1 (Canedo 57’) at Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, Doha, Qatar

Australia: Mat Ryan, Nathaniel Atkinson, Bailey Wright, Kye Rowles, Aziz Behich, Jackson Irvine, Aaron Mooy, Ajdin Hrustic (Awer Mabil 90’), Martin Boyle, Mathew Leckie (Milos Degenek 90’), Craig Goodwin (Jamie Maclaren 72’).

Originally published as Spectacular Ajdin Hrustic volley secures the Socceroos victory over the United Arab Emirates


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