Another great game of football! Full of passion, intensity, suspense, twists and plenty of yellow cards, with a few reds thrown in for good measure too. This was the game that Australia either needed to win, if Japan beat Brazil and beat them well, or draw with Croatia to go through to the round of 16 in the World Cup 2006.
It didn't start well for the Socceroos with Mark Viduka giving away a free kick which was converted by Darijo Sma into a goal within the first 2 minutes of play. Oh no, not the start we'd hoped for!
36 minutes later and Craig Moore put away a penalty kick after Stjepan Tomas, from Croatia, was penalised for a hand-ball in the box. Scores even (1-1) and momentum clearly in favour of Australia as Croatia played a more defensive game, trying to ride the game out.
In the 56th minute disaster struck as Australian goalie Zeljko Kalac let through an absolutely shocking kick by Niko Kovac – Kalac managed to block the ball with a side dive but the top spin on the ball kept it going, straight into the back of the net! It was such a soft goal that the Australian crowd was stunned to silence. 2-1 in Croatia's favour and things were again looking dicey.
Then in the 79th minute, Harry Kewell sealed the game (a draw of 2-2) for Australia with a lovely left footed strike from a head deflection! Here's a picture of the resulting jubilee amongst the Socceroos:
Photo: Vince Caligiuri (The Age)
Australia managed to hold on for the last 13 or so minutes to come away with a draw, which was all they needed having learnt that Japan had gone down 4-1 to Brazil.
It was a pretty scrappy game with many yellows handed out to the Croatian team (as well as two red cards) and a few yellows plus a red given to Australia. The referring was pretty average (there were two more possible penalty kicks for Australia that weren't awarded) but thankfully it didn't make much difference to the end result.
Next round we take on Italy which is a knock out game (it's the quarter finals after all). I personally believe we can take them down and progress to the semi finals which will be magnificent seeing as many people wrote us off to even progress past the Pool round.
Go the Socceroos! Oi Oi Oi!