The Socceroos had Mat Ryan to thank for avoiding what would have been an embarrassing draw against Palestine on Wednesday morning (Aussie time) as the goalkeeper helped the Aussies win 1-0 in their World Cup qualifier. Harry Souttar scored his second headed goal in as many games but said his side learned a valuable lesson heading into their next qualifiers.
Only a magnificent point-blank save from Ryan spared the Socceroos' blushes, with Graham Arnold's side failing to create many meaningful chances. "I don't think we were best pleased with our performance. We can play a lot, lot better," Souttar told Network 10 after the game.
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"But it's a great lesson for us as a team and a couple of the new guys coming into the squad about playing games away in Asia. If you want to go through and qualify, these are the games you've got to win. We stood up to the task and end of the day we won the game but we know as a group and as a squad we can play a whole lot better."
Palestine, the World No.96, should have equalised in the 45th minute, but Ryan denied Tamer Seyam's shot from close range with a brilliant save. Seyam couldn't believe the ball didn't find the back of the net, with Ryan showing why he is so valuable to Arnold's side.
"It's exactly what I predicted and thought - that Palestine were going to come out with that type of energy, that type of workrate and fight and you've got to give full credit to Palestine," the coach said. "Probably we didn't play our best but the most important thing was the three points. I'll have a bit of break now, a bit of a reflection on everything and I look forward to that."
— Subway Socceroos (@Socceroos) November 21, 2023
Socceroos make perfect start to World Cup qualifying
After wins over Bangladesh (7-0) and Palestine (1-0) in their first two matches of World Cup qualifying, the Socceroos sit top of group I on six points. With Bangladesh and Lebanon drawing 1-1 in the earlier match, Australia will resume qualifying in March - after the Asian Cup - four points clear with four games to play. The top two teams in each group will progress to the next stage.
The 25-year-old Souttar notched his 10th international goal when he scored in the 18th minute - again through a corner from Craig Goodwin. "A great feeling to be on the score sheet again, I never take it for granted," he said. "Scoring for your country is something really special and it's just getting sweeter and sweeter obviously."
With Souttar, who is a tick over 200cm tall, and the likes of fellow aerial threats Jackson Irvine and Mitch Duke, the Socceroos have developed into set-piece threats. "Set pieces are crucial, especially when you've got someone of Harry Souttar's size, height," Arnold said. "Then the delivery's important and Craig Goodwin's delivery on that corner was fantastic."
The Socceroos had eight shots (five on target), but struggled with Palestine's intense pressing. Palestine only had two shots on target from seven but threatened a huge boilover that will give Arnold plenty to ponder. Despite the win, Socceroos fans weren't particularly impressed by the performance.
Beating Palestine 1-0 is barely a win.
— Steve Glaveski (@SteveGlaveski) November 21, 2023
That was hard to watch
— Rcblue⚒️ (@rcblue5) November 21, 2023
Well, a W is a W but lots to learn…
— GOATSTRI (@Gayyivan) November 21, 2023
Very poor performance. Fantastic save by Ryan and A clinical corner in by Goodwin is the only reason we get the W today. We really need a top level goal scorer
— Wicked Raven (@OfficialWickedR) November 21, 2023
Embarrassing lucky to win that
— Ya'acov Young (@bw_youngy) November 21, 2023
coach has a bit to do as do they all
— Richard Mogridge🔅♋️ (@Rmorgoth9) November 21, 2023
Three points is three points but that was as poor of a performance that the @Socceroos have put in, in the last 12-18 months. Barely any fluid passages of play. Very lucky to get away with a win. We are going to need to be much better in the Asian Cup.#PLEvAUS #socceroos
— Drew (@vuck_shady) November 21, 2023
— Troy Smith (@TroySmith90) November 21, 2023
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