Australia beat Uruguay to clinch World Cup spot

16th November 2005, Comments 0 comments

16 November 2005, SYDNEY - Australia defeated Uruguay 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out to claim a place in the World Cup finals for the first time in 31 years.

16 November 2005

SYDNEY - Australia defeated Uruguay 4-2 in a penalty shoot-out to claim a place in the World Cup finals for the first time in 31 years.

The second-leg playoff tie ended 1-0 to Australia after 90 minutes to leave the teams level 1-1 on aggregate and 30 minutes of extra time failed to separate the sides.

Two saves from Mark Schwarzer sealed the match and delivered Australia tickets to next year's tournament in Germany.

After losing the opening leg in Montevideo 1-0, Australia needed to win by two clear goals to get into the finals. But regulation time and extra time ended with the home side a goal ahead and the match had to be settled on penalties.

Australia's goal came in the 35th minute when midfielder Marco Bresciano blasted home after some clever and unselfish work from ponytailed Harry Kewell, who played perhaps his best match for his homeland.

Australia had got off to a shaky start, with the visitors unlucky not to score a couple in the first 15 minutes. Alvaro Recoba was again the danger man, but when he went off in the 72nd minute the tide had already turned Australia's way.

Uruguay looked tired and had lost the South American sparkle that had taken them to 10 World Cup finals.

Part of the turnaround for Australia was the appearance of Kewell in the 32nd minute. Coach Guus Hiddink had opted for Bresciano and Tim Cahill, leaving out Kewell and Archie Thompson, who had dismal games in Montevideo.

Five minutes into extra time, Hiddink replaced Bresciano with John Aloisi. The Uruguayan defence clung on for the 120 minutes, their job made easier by poor finishing from the Australians.

In front of a capacity crowd of 83,000 Kewell drove home the first penalty. Aloisi sealed victory with the ninth spot kick, sparking wild celebrations in the Olympic Stadium.

"My faith in penalty shoot-outs is restored," Prime Minister John Howard said when sending his congratulations. Howard even suggested that employers should turn a blind eye to workers arriving late on the morrow after hard partying to mark the end of Australia's World Cup drought and a new start for football in a land where the dominant ball game is Australian Rules Football.

DPA

Subject: German news

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