Sports Desk, Jun 14 (EFE).- Australia on Monday secured the second-to-last berth in the 2022 World Cup with a dramatic 0-0 (5-4) victory over Peru on penalties, with substitute goalie Andrew Redmayne clinching the win with a diving save.
With their win, the Socceroos have reached their fifth consecutive World Cup and will be part of Group D in Qatar this November along with France, Denmark and Tunisia.
Australia employed a high press from the outset of that Asian Football Confederation (AFC)-South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL) playoff in al-Rayyan, Qatar, and it almost paid off when Mitchell Duke found space to launch a shot on goal but fired off-target in the fifth minute.
Peru’s best chance in the first half, for their part, came on a header by Gianluca Lapadula off a cross from the right from Andre Carrillo.
The South Americans sought to take control of midfield in the second half but ran into a solid Australian defense that kept their opponents from mounting a real threat against goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.
Australia had the clearest chances in the waning minutes of regulation, with Aziz Behich missing just wide of the far post with a shot in the 84th minute and Ajdin Hrustic firing a shot four minutes later that Pedro Gallese managed to save.
In extra time, Peru finally created some real danger at the Australian end of the field and nearly scored on a header by Edison Flores that clanked off the post in the 109th minute.
But after two hours on the pitch, the match remained 0-0 and had to be decided by penalties.
Australia sprung a surprise before the first attempt from the 12-yard mark, with manager Graham Arnold sending on penalty specialist Redmayne to replace Ryan, the Socceroos’ captain.
Peru snagged the advantage right away when Gallese saved Australia’s first attempt by Martin Boyle.
Four consecutive goals followed before Luis Advincula’s shot ricocheted off the post to leave the teams tied at 2-2.
After another five straight shots found the back of the net, Redmayne, who had been waving his hands around and dancing before every kick, made Arnold’s decision pay off when he dove to his right to save Alex Valera’s attempt and clinch the victory.
“I’m just so proud of the players. Really no one knows what these boys have been through to get to here,” Arnold said afterward. “It was so hard, the whole campaign. And the way they’ve stuck at it, the way they’ve committed themselves to it, incredible.” EFE