The Socceroos have beaten Saudi Arabia 3-2 in Adelaide to keep its World Cup 2018 qualifying hopes alive.
Two goals to Tomi Juric and a screamer from distance from Tom Rogic saw Australia overcome first-half mistakes to secure a crucial win.
Australia’s opener came in comical fashion as a hashed clearance from Saudi ‘keeper Yasser al Mosailem went straight to Juric, who showed presence of mind to apply an excellent finish from outside the box to slot home from distance.
But Australia’s bubble was burst soon enough as Saudi Arabia put together an excellent counter-attack, with Salem Aldawsari applying an unerring finish after a passing move cut the Socceroos backline to ribbons.
The first half looked stuck around the centre circle with neither side able to keep possession, only for a rare, excellent Australian move to pay dividends.
Down the right, Mathew Leckie burst towards the byline to put in a tantalising cross for the standing Juric, who planted the ball firmly past the keeper with his head for a second goal.
With Australia finally looking settled and hoping to close the stanza out, the visitors conspired to equalise on the stroke of half-time, with another slick counter-attack putting Mohammed al Sahlawi through to hit a rasping finish from a sharp angle.
Australia looked to make amends in the second half, but while it was beginning to boss possession, it looked like Saudi Arabia’s gameplan might be value enough to eke out a vital draw for the Green Falcons.
It was not to be, as Rogic found the ball at his feet, smashing a rasping exocet shot past the despairing keeper for a thunderous winner.
It should have been more for the Socceroos as just minutes later, a flowing move down the right saw Juric, Kruse and Leckie combine excellently, only for Leckie to be clearly brought down in the box as he burst into the area. The referee immediately waved play on, to the chagrin of the home supporters.
There were brief shouts for handball at the other end with Saudi Arabia begging for a penalty of their own, with a cross appearing to hit Trent Sainsbury on the arm, but with it hung so close to the centre-back’s body, the referee refused to give the spot kick.
The win sees Australia go level on points with second-placed Saudi Arabia in Group B of the Asian qualifying section, with a daunting away trip to Japan and a final home game against Thailand looming as the Socceroos’ remaining fixtures.
Tomi Juric scored twice in the first-half as Australia ran out eventual 3-2 winners over the Saudis. (AAP: David Mariuz)