Australia ended a 12-year World Cup drought with a thrilling victory over Tunisia

Australia ended a 12-year World Cup drought with a thrilling victory over Tunisia

AL WAKRAH, Qatar (AP) — Mitchell Duke formed a “J” with his fingers after scoring Australia’s winning goal as an homage to his son Jaxson, who was in the spectators.

As spectators sung along to Men at Work’s “Down Under,” booming over the stadium speakers after the final whistle, coach Graham Arnold hauled injured winger Martin Boyle — on crutches — into the celebration huddle.

Arnold afterwards wiped away tears.

It was an emotional day for Australia, who defeated Tunisia 1-0 in the World Cup on Saturday.

With a header midway through the first half, Duke gave Australia the lead, and Australia went on to win their first World Cup since a triumph over Serbia in 2010.

Mitchell Duke (R) of Australia celebrates with teammate Jackson Irvine (L) after scoring their team’s first goal during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between Tunisia and Australia.

“I was actually contacting some of my family, saying that I was going to score today,” Duke explained. “I told my son that I was going to be able to share this moment with him and have that celebration.” “I haven’t seen it yet, but he did it back to me from the stadium, which was a really amazing experience that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

It was Australia’s first World Cup shutout since the tournament’s inception in 1974, and it means the Socceroos still have a chance to advance to the round of 16 despite losing 4-1 to reigning champion France in their opening encounter.

Arnold stated why he put Boyle into the team’s staff as “vibe manager” in Qatar after he was injured a few weeks before the competition.

More from the New York Post on the 2022 World Cup may be found here.

“To keep all the men up,” Arnold explained, “because he’s one of the most amazing chaps you’ll ever meet.” “He didn’t want to go home, and I didn’t want to send him home.” He deserves it more than anybody else for his performance in the qualifying campaign.”

Tunisia will face France in the last round of group games on Wednesday, while Australia will face Denmark.

Following a rough start from both teams, Australia took the lead with a play out of the back by their goalie. Duke intercepted the goalkeeper’s pass in the center of the field and made a fast touch to set up Craig Goodwin down the left flank. With his back to the goal, Duke dashed forward to nod Goodwin’s deflected cross into the far corner.

The score calmed the large contingent of red-clad Tunisian fans in the 41,823-person crowd inside Al Janoub Stadium and sent small pockets of Australian supporters dressed in yellow into delirium.

Tunisia impressed in its opener, holding European Championship semifinalist Denmark to a 0-0 draw, but only occasionally threatened Australia until the Aussies sat back and defended near the end.

Mitchell Duke of Australia scores the opening goal of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Group D match between Tunisia and Australia on November 26, 2022 at Al Janoub Stadium.

“We were inefficient in the first half,” Tunisia coach Jalel Kadri said. “We played better in the second half, but we couldn’t convert our chances.”

Australia had also taken an early 1-0 lead over France in its opener before being outplayed and losing due to a series of defensive errors.

There were fewer mistakes this time, as well as some timely interventions, the most notable of which was a last-second sliding clearance from center back Harry Souttar to stop Mohamed Dräger’s dangerous shot shortly before halftime.

Tunisia is still hoping to advance from the group stage for the first time in its sixth World Cup appearance, but it must first defeat France.

“Everyone has been surprised by this World Cup edition; the larger squads have been defeated,” Kadri said. “We still have one more match, and we’ll give it our all.”

Tunisia fans held aloft a large Palestinian flag with the words “Free Palestine” printed on it during the second half.

 

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