Australia 3-1 Honduras World Cup play-off: goals, match report, as it happened
Australia qualify for the 2018 Russia World Cup with a comprehensive victory over Honduras in Sydney. Captain Mile Jedinak was the hat-trick hero.
Australia emerged victorious from a gritty match against Honduras in Sydney to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, their fourth successive tournament. Captain Mile Jedinak will be toasted at barbecues across the country after scoring two penalties and thundering in a deflected free-kick. The visitors scored a late consolation goal through Alberth Elis, but their World Cup dream comes to an end following a 0-0 draw in the first leg in Honduras.
"This is special - to do it in front of our home fans in a do-or-die contest,” said Jedinak after the passage to Russia had been secured.
For much of the first half, the do-or-die nature of the tie was rather too taken literally. The match was a niggly, attritional battle, with occasional outbreaks of football swiftly halted by wince-inducing tackles. Matthew Jurman was booked after two minutes for a reckless tackle on Elis. It could have been a red card, and it set the tone for 45 minutes of blood, guts, and thunder. In a match with such high stakes, that did not come as a great surprise.
The Socceroos made their superior quality count after the break. Jedinak forced the opening goal on 53 minutes with a driven free-kick from just outside the box. His shot ricocheted off the side of the wall, slapped the thigh of Henry Figeroa, and spun agonisingly in to the net. One for the DVD compilation, it was not.
When your luck is in, it’s in. The ANZ Stadium emitted a collective roar of relief when Bryan Acosta was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box with twenty minutes remaining. It appeared harsh on first viewing. Acosta’s contorted body position meant his hand and foot were close together when he made contact with the ball. Replays revealed that it was his hand that made the first contact.
Jedinak exhaled, ran a hand through his beard, and tucked the ball beyond Donis Escober in to the depths of the bottom corner. Up until that point, an equaliser would have taken Honduras through on away goals. The penalty changed the complexion of the match significantly.
Jerry Palacios gave the Argentine referee a far more straightforward penalty decision in the 85th minute. With Robbie Kruse bearing down on goal, the burly centre-half had enough, and scythed him down from behind. Jedinak sent this one down the middle, and sent Australia to the World Cup.
Alberth Elis scuffed a consolation goal in from close range in added time, but the Honduran players barely hada chance to amble back to the half-way line before the referee called time on their agricultural attempt to reach Russia.