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HISTORY MAKERS! Socceroos charge on with record 11th straight World Cup win, as Japan falter again

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7th October, 2021
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Goals from Awer Mabil, Martin Boyle and Mitch Duke gave the Socceroos a record 11th straight win as they joined Saudi Arabia atop their World Cup qualifying group on Friday.

The Socceroos beat Oman 3-1, overcoming some difficult moments to go to nine points from three games in this group stage and become the first ever country to win 11 consecutive games in a single World Cup campaign.

“It’s something we’ll reflect on in the future what a great feat it is, especially playing 10 out of 11 away from home, but for me it’s about going to Japan now and making it 12 in a row,” said Socceroos coach Graham Arnold.

The Saudis beat Japan 1-0 earlier Friday, leaving them on nine points, with Japan, who Australia face on Tuesday, on three points. Also on three are Oman and China, a 3-2 winner over Vietnam, bottom of the table with zero points, on Friday. Australia is in first on goal difference.

Australia were off to a flyer as Mabil took a composed touch on the left before smashing his shot past a slow to react goalkeeper Faiyz Al Rashidi.

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Mabil celebrated by putting the ball under his shirt and sucking his thumb, a tribute to his cousin who is expecting a child on Friday.

The keeper did much better soon after to prevent the Socceroos going two goals up as he got his fingertips to a stinging drive from Celtic’s Tom Rogic, making his 50th appearance for his country.

But after looking like they might run away with it, the Socceroos lost their way with some loose football exposed by their busy and tenacious opponent.

Mat Ryan was tested three times before he was well beaten for the Oman equaliser. Rabia Alawi Al Mandhar found space in the area as the defenders failed to close him down and after an excellent shift of weight drove home past Ryan.

Although the game was all square at halftime, momentum shifted towards Australia thanks to two significant Oman injuries.

Jackson Irvine went through Oman’s playmaker Zahir Al Aghbari and he was forced from the field with a shoulder injury on 35 minutes. Then just before the break Oman’s scorer went down lame and although he battled on into the second half he’d lost his zip.

Australia began the second half as they had the first, grabbing a goal just four minutes after the break through Boyle. Boyle, who is equal top scorer in the Scottish Premier League this season with Hibernian, scored his fifth goal in nine internationals.

Adam Taggart’s goal bound strike was blocked and the ball popped up for Boyle to dive in bravely ahead of a defender’s foot to nod home.

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“I don’t remember a lot about it,” said Boyle afterwards. “I was flying through the air, thought he was going to take my head off with his boot, but you’ve got to be brave,” Boyle said.

Former Socceroo Alex Brosque was full of praise for the Scottish raised Boyle.

“He’s so important for us and showed it again with a gaol right when we needed it,” said Brosque. “It calmed the boys straight down. His energy, his all rund work rate and constant pressure on defence is what we need.”

Boyle, who missed the win over Vietnam through injury, thought he’d won a penalty six minutes later when he was pushed in the back in the area. VAR upeld the referee’s decision to wave play on despite clear evidence of a push – although perhaps Boyle went to ground a little too easily.

Former Socceroo Mark Milligan told 10 that if “that’s a penalty, I wouldn’t have had a career.”

A third was welcome as Oman pushed to the finish. A lack of composure at key moments cost them as the Socceroos defence held on through a nervy last half hour before substitute Duke sealed the deal in the 88th minute.

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“It’s been a workman like, par performance,” said Andy Harper on the 10 coverage. “It hasn’t been a sparkling performance by the Socceroos, nor has it been a poor one.”

The Socceroos dominated the ball with 58 percent possession and 16 shots to 10, with eight on target.

“We got dragged into an erratic game but once we got the boys in at half and settled down we concentrated more on keeping the ball and making them chase it,” said Arnold.

“Dukey comes on and brings so much energy, Awer is going up higher and higher in his level every time he plays for us and and Boyley’s a poacher.”

The Socceroos face Japan on Tuesday night in Saitama in the next stage of a fierce rivalry. A 12th win could go a long way to ending Japan’s realistic prospects of automatic qualification for next year’s World Cup in Qatar.

Australia hasn’t beaten Japan in their last seven matches, stretching back to 2009.

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