A breakaway goal from Mathew Leckie gave Australia a 1-0 victory over Denmark in their Group D World Cup game. The insane Socceroos reached the round of 16 and the disappointing Danes dropped out.
Denmark needed to win Wednesday’s game at Al Janoub Stadium to get ahead, but their initial pressure was nullified by a determined Australian defense. Australia grew into the game over the course of the first half and made several counterattacks, but the game remained goalless at half time.
A magical moment from Leckie has broken the dead end of the hour mark. As Denmark pushed the men forward, Australia cracked and a penetrating ball found Leckie on acres on the left. He turned Danish full-back Joakim Maehle in one direction, then the other before passing the ball past Kasper Schmeichel into the back corner.
“I’m proud, exhausted, everything, really. It’s hard to describe the emotions right now,” Leckie told Australian broadcaster SBS after the game.
“We always knew we could do this as a group. We had our doubters, but our spirit, faith, work ethic, and how close we are as a group show on the pitch. For the last 15, 20 minutes, we fought to the end.
“It didn’t matter what they threw at us, we didn’t agree. We’re going to make the most of it tonight, but then it’s all about recovery.”
After the Australian goal, Denmark stormed forward in search of goals. But even though they were outvoted by a likely offside penalty, they rarely looked like a goal.
10 minutes left to go, the referee awarded Denmark a penalty for a foul against Kasper Dolberg, which was quickly knocked over after the flag was raised offside.
With Tunisia taking the lead against France in the other Group D game, it looked as though Australia would need to win to get ahead. They nervously weathered waves of Danish attacks to claim the 1-0 victory and finish second in the group, behind France and ahead of Tunisia.
The Danes — semi-finalists of last year’s European Championships — will be disappointed when they finish last in the group.
Australia, which reached the last 16 of a World Cup for the first time since 2006, celebrated wildly. The Socceroos face off against the winner of Group C, who could be Poland, Argentina or Saudi Arabia.
The Australians will know their exact opponents by the end of the day after Poland and Argentina face off and Saudi Arabia faces Mexico.
This is only the second time Australia has qualified for the knock-out phase. In 2006, they were eliminated from the round of 16 after a 0-1 loss to eventual champions Italy.
At the final whistle, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese welcomed what he called a “great” victory.
Great win from @Socceroos #woohoo
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) November 30, 2022
Australia coach Graham Arnold, however, said he was more focused on the work ahead than on cheering after the win.
“We’ve been working on this for four and a half years, and I could see in their eyes that they were ready tonight,” Arnold said.
“There are no celebrations tonight. That’s why we won after a great win against Tunisia: no celebrations, no emotions, no sleep and no social media.”