Doha [Qatar], June 14 (ANI): Substitute goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne was the hero as Australia qualified for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 after defeating Peru 5-4 on penalties in the Inter-Confederation Playoff at Ahmad bin Ali Stadium on Monday to ensure Asia has six representatives in the FIFA World Cup for the first time in history.
The playoff ended 0-0 after 120 minutes with Australia prevailing from the penalty spot to qualify for their sixth FIFA World Cup Finals.
The Socceroos join hosts Qatar as well as Saudi Arabia, Japan, Iran and South Korea in the Finals for the biggest ever AFC contingent on the global stage. They will be placed in Group D alongside France, Denmark and Tunisia.
Australia started brightly with Mitchell Duke taking possession of a loose ball on the edge of the Peruvian area and rifling an effort that whizzed just wide off the upright inside the opening three minutes.
Play centred around the middle of the park for extended spells of the first half with Jackson Irvine missing the target twice with headers, first from Aaron Mooy’s out-swinging corner then following some fine footwork and cross from Martin Boyle on the right.
Head coach Graham Arnold looked to inject more pace and width into the Australian attack, bringing on Awer Mabil to replace Mitchell Duke midway through the second half.
Five minutes from time, left-back Aziz Behich came within a whisker of scoring a wonder goal as he embarked on a 40-yard slaloming run from the flank, before cutting inside on his right and curling a shot that passed agonisingly close on the wrong side of the upright.
The Socceroos pushed higher as the game wore on and Hrustic was again so close to settling the tie after Mabil showed incredible desire and pace to chase a long ball down the left and feed the Eintracht Frankfurt attacking midfielder whose side-footed shot was caught by Gallese at the bottom corner as the 90 minutes ended goalless.
A left-footed Edison Flores effort from 20 yards out that was caught confidently by Mat Ryan was the highlight of an otherwise cagey first 15 minutes of extra time with Australia remaining compact throughout.
Peru had back-to-back chances to open the scoring straight after resumption of play first with Cueva missing the target from close range then moments later with a Flores header that beat Ryan but ricocheted off the post.
With the clock ticking towards 120 minutes, coach Arnold opted to bring on goalkeeper Redmayne for Ryan for the penalty shootout.
Martin Boyle missed Australia’s opening penalty but the first five kicks ended 4-4 after Luis Advincula hit the post for Peru, taking it to sudden death where Awer Mabil scored for the Socceroos before Redmayne rewarded his coach with saving Alex Valera’s penalty to send Australia to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. (ANI)