June 21, 2021


Next Level Game Over

Socceroos vs Kuwait, live coverage, blog, Australia soccer, result, score, video, stream, how to watch,

After 567 days without kicking the ball in anger, it took the Socceroos just 55 seconds to find the net and begin a dream return to World Cup qualifying action against Kuwait.

Veteran forward Mat Leckie, donning the captain’s armband in his 64th appearance in the green and gold, leaped unmarked at the back post to head home a Martin Boyle cross and calm some nerves.

And while there were one or two signs of rust – shooting inaccuracies meant the final result was tighter than it could have been – the Socceroos were almost completely dominant in a 3-0 win.

In stifling 39-degree conditions in Kuwait, the Socceroos played a high-tempo and free-flowing style of football, controlling territory and creating a host of chances.

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Socceroos excited to be back together | 05:42

Just as pleasing for coach Graham Arnold would be the performances of debutant trio Fran Karacic and substitutes Kenny Dougall and Riley McGree, as the Socceroos fielded a new-look squad that also featured defensive midfielder James Holland for the first time in seven years.

The second goal came from a penalty as Ajdin Hrustic drew the slightest of fouls on the edge of the box in the 23rd minute. The referee enraged the hosts by blowing for a spot-kick, and without VAR in use there was no chance of it being overruled. Scottish-based winger Martin Boyle saw his penalty saved, only for Hibernian teammate Jackson Irvine to react quickest and poach the goal from inside the six-yard box.

Boyle missed another strong chance to score when Irvine played him through on goal six minutes later, poking wide of the goal.

Hrustic capped off a fantastic fourth international cap – and a starting debut – with a maiden goal in the second half, sending a 25-yard free-kick crashing into the near post and subsequently the back of the net. Although he benefited from some a goalkeeping misread, Hrustic was well-deserving of his 66th-minute goal.

The tempo and quality of the second stanza was significantly poorer, as the hosts attempted to slow the game in an apparent attempt to protect their goal difference – something which could prove crucial to their hopes of reaching the next round of the FIFA World Cup Qualification process.

As for Australia, the Socceroos now move five points clear at the top of Group B of the AFC second stage, with three more matches in the coming fortnight.

It was a fifth-straight win for the Socceroos for the first time since October 2011, and a fourth-straight win away from home for the first time since 2002.

Australia had 11 shots to Kuwait’s one inside the opening half an hour, with Leckie missing a second headed opportunity in the first five minutes, while Boyle missed from right in front when fed through on goal just before the half-hour mark.

In stifling 39-degree conditions at kick-off in Kuwait, both teams stopped for a drinks break half an hour into both halves.

“The key in this kind of heat is to keep the ball, quite simply,” former Socceroo and Fox Football expert Robbie Slater said ahead of the clash.

But the work-rate of the Socceroos was elite throughout the match, leading former Socceroo gloveman Mark Bosnich to comment at half-time: “They made it look like it was absolutely normal (conditions).”

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Karacic, Degenek, McGowan, Behich

Holland, Irvine

Mabil, Hrustic, Boyle


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