The Socceroos have done it, they are on their way to their fifth consecutive world cup final after beating Peru in a 5-4 penalty shootout in the early hours of this morning at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Doha, Qatar.
Substitute goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne’s nerves held out in the penalty shootout when he made the vital save in the sudden-death phase of the shootout that was the outcome of 0-0 result in 2 hours of open play.
Redmayne praised his team’s effort during the game. He had come on late in extra time after Matthew Ryan had kept Peru out for much of the game.
“I can’t thank the team enough, the staff enough. You know, I’m not going to take credit. The boys ran out 120 minutes, and it not only takes 11 on the field but the boys on the bench, the boys in the stands.
“I’m no hero. I just played my role – like everyone else did tonight,” Redmayne told the 10 Football after the match.
Before the final World Cup Qualifier knockout match, Australian, coach Graham Arnold said that he had wanted to bolster the defence which had conceded “sloppy” goals in the past and it showed in the 120-minute battle of attrition in which neither side was able to penetrate the other’s defences.
While Peru had slightly more time with the ball, 54 percent possession and a higher pass count, 662 passes to the Australian’s 583, the teams were evenly balanced.
During open play, Australia had 11 shots on goal, with two shots on target. Peru had 10 attempts on goal of which one was on target.
Australia had three corners to Peru’s two, during the entire game
Coach Graham Arnold said afterwards: “No one knows what those boys have been through to get here. It was so hard, the whole campaign, and the way they’ve stuck at it and committed themselves to it, incredible.”
In response to questions about the late substitutions of the goalkeeper’s, the coach said that Redmayne was a “very good penalty saver”.
“And to try to get into the mind (of the Peruvian players)… to add that little bit of uncertainty in their brains. That’s the reason why,” said Arnold whose position had come under fire when the team failed to automatically qualify for the World Cup starting in November.
Ajdin Hrustic’s effort in the 81st minute was the first goal-bound effort by either team and was saved by Peruvian goalkeeper/captain Pedro Gallese.
Peru substitute Edison Flores was on target in the first period of extra time but for the goal post getting in the way.
Aziz Behich came close with a long-range effort and Hrustic again came close to score in the 88th minute but Gallese again frustrated him.
The stalemate continued into extra time and Arnold gave the nod to Redmayne to take over in goal in a decision that proved to be the difference in the end.
“I called out Anthony Albanese the other day, to give everyone, give the fans a day off to celebrate this because I believe this is one of the greatest achievements ever, to qualify for this World Cup the way we’ve had to go through things. Twenty World Cup qualifiers and we’ve played 16 away from home. It’s been tough but we did it,” Arnold said.
Australia will join Group D in this year’s World Cup which includes stuttering 2018 World Cup winners France, Denmark and Tunisia.