Socceroos relish role of reputation busters

It was going to take a moment of improvisation to deny a gallant Socceroos side and it came from the boot of Paul Pogba, aided by a slight deflection from Aziz Behich.

Socceroos

Socceroos players celebrate their goal against France Source: Getty Images

As the clock ticked into the 81st minute, and with the Socceroos more than worthy participants in an engrossing contest locked at 1-1, the Manchester United midfielder’s lofted toe-poke caught Mat Ryan off his line and dropped just centimeters over it, off the underside of the crossbar.

Such are the fine margins at football’s most exalted level.

But, for those in any doubt, Russia 2018 has been put on notice by the Socceroos.

Advertisement
Australia are shaping up as one the tournament’s reputation busters after, at times, turning French swagger into a virtual stagger in Kazan on Saturday in a Bert van Marwijk-inspired of diligence, fortitude and technical aptitude.



Cast as human sacrifices spread-eagled on an alter of French flair after their opener, Australia weren’t buying into it.

Showing scant respect for football’s established order, the side given only passing regard by Les Bleus in the build up to the game didn’t just match Didier Deschamps’ billion-dollar brigade, they often out-thought them, as well as out-fought them.

Looks of concern were spreading across the weathered face of Deschamps by the half hour mark, as it became clear the team given belief and structure by van Marwijk were not not going to be dismissed lightly by one of the tournament favourites.



Belief abounding, they were never daunted and with Trent Sainsbury and Mark Milligan immense at the back and recalled Mile Jedinak forging an assured partnership with Aaron Mooy, they were formidable in transition.

Elsewhere, the cohesion instilled into the line up by van Marwijk was there for all too see, with Mathew Leckie and Robbie Kruse hives of industry and Tom Rogic straining every sinew for the cause.

Even when VAR intervened to rule against Josh Risdon and allow - eventually - Antoine Griezmann to open the scoring from the spot in the 58th minute, Deschamps still looked worried.

And with good reason, as Australia poured forward Samuel Umtiti handed a Mooy delivery and Jedinak kept his customary cool to bury the 62nd minute penalty.

In the end, all that was missing was that moment of inspiration the Pogba’s of the world provide.

The joyful relief painted across Deschamps’ face at the final whistle said it all.

French have survived a massive scare.

Australia must now regroup and go one better against Denmark.

Their dream is not dead yet.




Share
Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Have a story or comment? Contact Us

Watch the FIFA World Cup, Tour de France, Giro d’Italia, Vuelta a España, Dakar Rally, World Athletics / ISU Championships (and more) via SBS On Demand – your free live streaming and catch-up service.
Watch nowOn Demand
Follow SBS Sport
3 min read
Published 16 June 2018 at 11:10pm
By Dave Lewis in Kazan