Socceroos vs New Zealand, All Whites, Awer Mabil goal, highlights, news, score, result, teams, fixtures

100 years after New Zealand’s loss in Australia’s first-ever men’s international match, the Socceroos claimed revenge – extending a two-decade undefeated Trans-Tasman run – with a sloppy 1-0 win in Brisbane.

“Far from satisfied, to be honest. There are many things we could have done better,” midfielder Jackson Irvine told Channel 10 after the game.

“In the end, a win is a win,” he added.

Awer Mabil’s sensational strike from afar in the 33rd minute proved the winner, with the Spain-based winger making up for a lack of club minutes to score his eighth goal in 29 appearances for the Socceroos.

The centenary doubled as the Socceroos’ last home-grown game ahead of the World Cup in Qatar. And while it was a positive result for Graham Arnold’s men, there was little assurance that the Socceroos could do well in their fifth consecutive World Cup appearance.

With Tim Cahill and Guus Hiddink in the stands 25,392 – the Socceroos star and manager of the drought-breaking 2006 World Cup appearance – the performance they witnessed was largely disappointing.

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The Socceroos were messy, with rare positive moments marred by a lack of consistency with the ball and defensive weaknesses without it. Against a more dangerous attacking team – New Zealand had not scored in the last three games before this encounter – those weaknesses could very well have been exposed.

Australia’s attack also struggled to create strong scoring opportunities, with Jackson Irvine missing a rare golden opportunity early in the piece and substitute Mat Leckie hitting the post in the 85th minute when his one-on-one counterattack was well saved.

Despite the difference in the FIFA rankings – Australia 39th compared to NZ 103rd – and the fact that NZ failed to qualify for the World Cup, the match was a balanced affair. Both sides took 12 shots, with New Zealand landing four on target out of Australia’s three. The visitors had more passes with greater accuracy and should have opened the scoring with some good chances in the opening minutes.

“We could have scored a little more and we have to be more ruthless,” said coach Graham Arnold after the game.

The teams will now travel to Auckland for a second game at Eden Park (1pm Sunday AEST), with Arnold set to unleash a new lineup, including seven potential debutants.

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The Socceroos got an early start in the second minute when Trent Sainsbury played a bad ball from defence, which resulted in Tim Payne firing from distance – but only at Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan.

New Zealand should have opened the score in the 10th minute after a long ball from keeper Oli Sail caught the Australia defence. Australian centre-back Milos Degenek missed his header attempt to clear the danger, with the ball falling for Andre De Jong who outsmarted Sainsbury to get one-on-one with Mat Ryan. But De Jong’s shot went just wide of the right post.

Australia started to grow offensively in the game and Jackson Irvine missed a golden opportunity when a corner from Aaron Mooy fell at his feet in the 17th minute. But his attempt to dribble the ball into the bottom corner dribbled wide.

Corners started to mount on both sides and Australia appeared to have opened the scoring in the 28th minute as Jackson Irvine headed a Mooy corner into goal, while Trent Sainsbury knocked it over the line from close range. But Irvine was left furious after the referee already whistled, claiming that Irvine had dragged defender Nando Pijnaker down – although replays showed Pijnaker simply slipped.

But their frustration was short-lived. In the 33rd minute, Jackson Irvine hobbled the ball into the NZ half and quickly fed left winger Awer Mabil, who circled a defender and thundered a long range attack into the bottom corner.

After shooting wide from a similar range earlier in the game, he made no mistake this time, scoring his eighth goal in 29 appearances for the Socceroos.

After the goal, the Socceroos entered the game and came out of the second stanza more positively after a mediocre first half.

But New Zealand continued to threaten from time to time, with Joe Bell threatening Mat Ryan in the 57th minute with a long range attack that luckily hit the veteran gauntlet right.

Ryan was forced to race out of his box and play a long ball two minutes later, firing a long shot from hulking Premier League striker Chris Wood of New Zealand.

After an hour, Riley McGree replaced Ajdin Hrustic in midfield, while Adam Taggart – who ran hard but struggled to get in – was dropped for fellow striker Jamie Maclaren.

McGree scored almost immediately with an attempt from outside the box that sailed just over the crossbar.

Ten minutes after the first substitution, goalscorer Awer Mabil was substituted for winger Mat Leckie, while Fran Karacic was replaced by Nathaniel Atkinson.

The chances continued to flow, with Martin Boyle attempting a daring volley from outside the area – but again his shot went wide.

Ten minutes before time, Atkinson made a crucial escape as NZ winger Ben Waine shot down the right flank and netted a dangerous cross, with Atkinson sliding desperately to clear the ball near the back post.

But NZ’s continued pressure began to show, with the Australians moving deeper and deeper into their own half as offenses continued to mount.

But after a NZ free kick sent into the wall from right up front, Australia broke through in the 85th minute. Martin Boyle and Mat Leckie ran on target, with Boyle playing one-on-one in his fellow attacker. Leckie’s shot seemed destined to settle into the bottom corner, but Kiwi keeper Oli Sail only got the ball on the grain and hit the outside of the post.

In the closing minutes, Connor Metcalfe replaced Irvine, while Aziz Behich was replaced by the younger Joel King.

The match opened up as both sides grew tired, and the Socceroos had another decent chance in stoppage time by counterattacking when Martin Boyle picked up the ball in the opposing half. He played a bad ball behind Riley McGree, while the substitute fed Maclaren, who shot badly from outside the box.

It turned out to be one of the last acts of the match, as Australia said goodbye to their home country with a win.

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TEAM NEWS

Arnold has identified a very strong starting XI for the clash, an indication of his thinking about the side that will take on France, Denmark and Tunisia in the group stage of the World Cup.

Captain Mat Ryan is in goals.

Veterans Milos Degenek and Trent Sainsbury start at the heart of the defence, with Fran Karacic and Aziz Behich on either side.

In midfield, Aaron Mooy, Jackson Irvine and Ajdin Hrustic appear to form a three-man triangle.

Up front, Adam Taggart will lead, with Awer Mabil on the left and Martin Boyle on the right.

Remarkably, it is Taggart’s first appearance for the Socceroos on home soil, with all of his 16 previous appearances away from home. It is also his first green and gold appearance since October 2021.

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