WATCH: Rogic cracker earns win for Socceroos against Saudis
THERE were nerves aplenty, but Ange Postecoglou was encouraged by the Socceroos' second half performance as they beat Saudi Arabia 3-2 to keep their World Cup hopes on track.
After a brace from Tomi Juric, it was Tom Rogic's second-half screamer that sealed the crucial points in Adelaide, with the result elevating the Socceroos to 16 points, level with group leaders Japan and Saudi Arabia.
The task is not quite done yet, but should be completed in September with a must-win home match against Thailand.
Postecoglou admits the first half "was a bit nervy", but he was pleased by the response from his players.
"The second half was very pleasing, we were very strong and it will give the players a great deal of encouragement," he said.
"Some young players lack some composure, they're still learning the nuances of international football. There were also some players who haven't played in a while. To be fair the intent was there and as long as the intent is there, we can overcome what needs to be overcome."
After a forgettable first half display, whatever was said b Postecoglou at the break seemed to do the trick. The Socceroos came out with renewed vigour and in the 64th minute got their reward when Rogic scored a rocket from the edge of the area.
And they should have had a chance to extend their lead soon after when Mathew Leckie was brought down in the box, only for his penalty shout to be waved away by the referee.
There was desperate defending from Trent Sainsbury to keep the visitors out and right back at the other end Juric should have completed his hat-trick, but his attempt from close range flew over the bar.
Fortunately, the Socceroos managed to hold on for the win despite a performance that was, at times, unconvincing.
It was 2-2 at the break - a scoreline that was no less than the Saudi's deserved despite a dream start for the Socceroos.
Juric was gifted the opener inside the opening 10 minutes when goalkeeper Al Mosailem slipped as he tried to clear the ball, skewing it straight to Juric who, with a quality finish from distance, slotted the ball home.
It should have set the tone, but the home side failed to assert themselves and in the 23rd minute were made to pay when Saudi Arabia equalised.
A run through the heart of the Socceroos' defence resulted in an excellent goal for Salem Al Dawsari.
The warning signs were there, but there was temporary relief for the Socceroos when Juric grabbed his second in the 36th minute.
After a good run down the right, Mathew Leckie put in a perfect dink over the top of the Saudi defence, which Juric headed past the motionless keeper.
With an eye already on half time and a much-needed break in play, Saudi Arabia again came from behind when Al Sahlawi pounced.
It was a great finish and he was well set up by Al Jassam, but the Socceroos' were generous at the back. That was the theme of the opening 45 minutes and the half time whistle couldn't come soon enough.
There was a decent crowd, 29,785 fans, at Adelaide Oval, but not the sellout it should have been for a game of such magnitude.
It did get off to a somewhat controversial start when Saudi Arabia didn't line up opposite Australia to observe a moment's silence for the victims of the recent London attack, particularly for the two Australian women who tragically died in it.
Saudi captain Osama Hawsawi appeared to continue his stretching during the moment's silence in what was an ordinary showing from the visitors.
AUSTRALIA 3 (Tomi Juric 7m, 36m, Tomas Rogic 64m) SAUDI ARABIA 2 (Salem Al- Dawsari 23m, Mohammed Al Sahlawi 45+2m) at Adelaide Oval. Crowd: 29,785. Referee: Ravshan Irmatov.