Graham Arnold became only the second Australian manager in history to lead the Socceroos out of a FIFA World Cup (FWC) group stage, with Mathew Leckie’s final-minute strike giving a popular 1-0 victory over a dejected Denmark.
A bloated first half unfolded, as is occasionally the case in high-stakes encounters, with neither side able to commit an excessive number of men forward and uncover themselves at the back. Chances came at a higher cost than expected, but Denmark came closest to scoring, with Mathias Jensen’s driven strike tipped over the crossbar by Mathew Ryan.
Tunisia’s final part premiere Arnold’s team was on the verge of defeat against France in the other match of the gathering. When his team needed a dose of sorcery, Leckie delivered. A mazy run from the halfway line fooled the extended Danish defense, leaving Kasper Schmeichel vulnerable as the ball streamed into the farthest corner following the Hertha Berlin winger’s left-footed shot.
Having never recently kept a clean sheet against European opposition – this being their twelfth such experience – Australia’s safeguard usually dropped deeper as the full-time whistle approached. Denmark, as in the previous two matches, never seemed to pose a threat, and Kasper Hjulmand’s side, who entered the competition as expected surprisingly strong contenders, are currently avoiding Qatar, made it to the beginning of the block The Euro 2020 semi-finalists finished the coordinate with only three shots on target, demonstrating their distinct lack of value before goal.
Despite Denmark’s disappointing performance, the significance of Australia’s achievement cannot be overstated, with the Socceroos entering the FWC knockouts for the first time in 2006. From the Al Janoub Arena to Melbourne’s League Square, this result will rouse a generation of Australian football supporters who will finally have a group in which to put their faith.