Socceroos triumph: moments that mattered
ONE man grabbed the headlines but every man played their part. These are the moments that took Australia to Russia 2018.
EXPERIENCED HEADS RETURN
It was the most experienced side Ange Postecoglou could have picked, with Tim Cahill and Mark Milligan returning to the starting line-up. But Mile Jedinak, putting his body on the line for the cause and backing up after playing 90 minutes in Honduras, was vital.
There was no disguising Matthew Jurman's intent from the whistle. The defender put in a crunching, studs up tackle on Alberth Elis in the third minute and was fortunate to get away with just a booking. Another referee could easily have shown red.
In what was an otherwise forgettable first half, Tom Rogic had the best chance of it. A nutmeg from Cahill in the corner found Behich, who squared the ball back beautifully for Rogic, but the Celtic man's weak effort was easily saved. It heightened the tension at a packed ANZ Stadium, but fortunately it wouldn't prove to be decisive.
When Tom Rogic won a free kick just outside the box in the 54th minute, Jedinak took it. Goal. When the Socceroos were awarded a penalty in the 72nd, Jedinak stepped up. Goal. Another penalty in the 85th, another goal for the bearded warrior. The skipper was massive, for the second consecutive game.
THE MOMENT OF QUALIFICATION
It was almost certain at 2-0, but qualification was finally guaranteed when Jedinak scored the Socceroos', and his, second penalty in the 85th minute. A collective sigh of relief from the fans at the ground, to the press box and those watching at home. Finally, this long and arduous qualification journey is over and the Socceroos can plan for Russia - with or without Ange Postecoglou.