The Roar
The Roar


Borrello off the mark, Gauchi excels, but Socceroos out-muscled in Ecuador loss

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28th March, 2023
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The Socceroos split their two-match series with Ecuador as the visitors won 2-1 in Melbourne.

The South American side came from a goal down to score twice in the second half and avenge the 3-1 loss in Sydney on Friday.

Australia opened the scoring in the 16th minute when Brandon Borrello scored his first international goal. The Western Sydney Wanderers striker pounced after Craig Goodwin’s off balance strike came back off a post.

Riley McGree was denied a penalty after being felled in the box in first half injury time, but the Ecuadorians came out firing. A Thomas Deng foul led to a 51st minute penalty from Pervis Estupinan and the visitors went ahead when William Pacho headed in a corner in the 65th minute.


Ecuador deserved their win in front of 27,103 fans at Marvel Stadium and Socceroos debutant goalkeeper Joe Gauchi made a string of excellent saves.

“Of course in the moment I was stoked… but we win together and we lose together, it’s as simple as that,” Borrello said.

“It was definitely fiery, they won a lot of second balls… but I think there’s a lot of positives.”

Coach Graham Arnold added: “I think it was a great lesson. You see how physically strong they were I think they won the physical battle… I think that was one of the biggest standouts. They won pretty much every second ball because they were physically better.”

Arnold made seven changes to his starting line-up from Sydney.

Melburnian Jackson Irvine captained the Socceroos for the first time, Gauci replaced Ryan (minor groin injury), and Bailey Wright replaced Harry Souttar (ankle).

But Wright and Thomas Deng, who replaced Kye Rowles but was hooked for him in the second half, were given nightmares all night by Kevin Rodriguez.


Gauci was called into action in the fourth minute when Rodriguez burst away from Wright and cracked a shot on target, with the 22-year-old getting down low for a brilliant one-handed save.

The Socceroos took the lead when Irvine teed up Craig Goodwin, who slipped as he smacked a long-range shot into the post.

The ball deflected out fortuitously to Borrello, who sizzled a first-time left-footed strike home.

In the 22nd minute, Rodriguez outmuscled Deng and got a shot away, but again met his match in Gauci, who turned the ball to safety.

Gauci made another sharp stop to deny a Felix Torres header from the subsequent corner.

There were nasty scenes in the 27th minute when Cameron Devlin was left streaming blood from an accidental knee to the head from Pacho, but he returned to play.

Ecuador fired a warning shot when Junior Somoza blasted over the bar in the 31st minute.


McGree was incensed when he didn’t receive a penalty late in the half.

Six minutes into the second half, Fernandez cut inside Deng and the defender brought him down from behind, with Ecuador skipper Estupinan coolly burying the subsequent penalty.

For Ecuador’s second, Pacho cleverly disguised his run and peeled off Australia’s defenders to head home a lovely corner from Junior Sornoza.

Melbourne City youngster Jordan Bos made his international debut in the second half, but Arnold opted not to turn to Adelaide teen sensation Nestory Irankunda.