Socceroos Hopes Still Alive In World Cup
The Socceroos World Cup dreams aren't over yet, after a brave performance against Denmark.
What you need to know
- Denmark 1 - Australia 1
- 7' Goal -- Christian Eriksen (DEN)
- 37' Yellow Card -- Yussuf Poulsen (DEN)
- 38' Goal (Penalty) -- Mile Jedinak (AUS)
- 84' Yellow Card -- Pione Sisto (DEN)
Fielding an unchanged side from their first match against France, the Australians were brimming with confidence against Denmark. But the Socceroos World Cup hopes hang in the balance after a draw in their second group stage match.
The Danes applied pressure in the opening period, and were awarded for their efforts with both a free kick and a corner by the fourth minute, but were solidly defended by Australia. The Socceroos replied to the early pressure with some time on the ball, but two Aaron Mooy corners were wasted.
Australia's number 10 Robbie Kruse seemed to be the unluckiest player on the pitch -- two chances scuffed when the ball was defended onto his feet and put out for a Danish goal kick in quick succession.
A counter-attacking Danish side had made quick ground when on the edge of the box Nicolai Jørgensen flicked a pass to the boots of Christian Eriksen and the deadlock was broken in the seventh minute. The Tottenham Hotspur player smashed a cracking half-volley above the head of goal keeper Maty Ryan, who could do nothing but watch as the ball sailed into the net.
The Aussies may have been down on the scoreboard, but an advantage (only advantage) of conceding the early goal meant they had time on their side to reply. End-to-end play saw both teams attack -- leaving neither goal keeper any time to relax.
A Mooy corner looked to be falling for Mathew Leckie's head, but Yussuf Poulsen headed it away... onto his hand. Despite the Socceroos screaming at the referee for the penalty, their pleas were waved away.
But as play continued at the other end of the field, the Spanish referee stopped the game as VAR made itself known. To the relief of an entire nation, Australia's second run in with VAR put them on the right side of history. After just one re-watch of the corner, the referee awarded the penalty to the Australians and a yellow card to Poulsen for his handball.
Captain Mile Jedinak stepped up to the spot, and remained focused against goal keeper Kasper Schmeichel's best attempts to distract him. The bearded number 15 was as cool-as-anything as he calmly slotted the penalty into the bottom corner and Australia was back in the game.
For each pass the Socceroos made, the majority-Aussie crowd shouted 'ole' as their team attacked with a new-found confidence and vigor.
With just two minutes extra time in the first half, both teams hit the sheds even on the board.
A swinging start to the second half meant neither team dominated possession but both had plenty of chances to get ahead. Australia seemed happy to stay solid in defence and strike on the counter.
Goal scorer Eriksen -- who has the ability to control the midfield -- was quiet for much of the second half, but Pione Sisto was on fire for the Danish on the left, and was involved in most of their attack.
The Aussies were given a boost in the 68th minute, when teenage wunderkind Daniel Arzani replaced Kruse and showed maturity beyond his years. A revitalised Australian attack put the pressure on the Danes, and took control of the game.
But Australian hearts were broken when striker Andrew Nabbout went down clutching his shoulder, pain evident on his face as he was quickly substituted. To the surprise of most, it was Tomi Juric who was given the nod, leaving national hero Tim Cahill languishing on the bench -- still without any minutes at this tournament.
As confidence grew in the Australians, Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy both released the trigger from outside the penalty box, coming within inches of putting the Socceroos ahead.
It was Rogic who was taken off for the final subsitution, with box-to-box midfielder Jackson Irvine hoping to inject fresh legs into the attack.
The final minutes of the game were hard fought -- Australia created promising chances but couldn't finish them off while being solid in defence against a fading Danish side who had begun to sit back off the ball.
Australia were unlucky not to come away from the game with all three points, but all hope is not lost for the Green and Gold.
There are two scenarios in the remaining group stage games that could see the Socceroos advance to the knockout rounds -
- France beats Peru and Denmark
- Australia beat Peru by 3
- Peru beat France
- Denmark win or draw against France
- Australia beat Peru by 3
Easy. (We hope)