Analysis

Jedinak penalty keeps alive Socceroos’ World Cup hopes

Australia’s Socceroos remain in with a chance of reaching the 2018 FIFA World Cup Round of 16 after playing out a 1-1 draw with Denmark in Group C on Thursday.

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The Danes were initially headed for victory at the Samara Arena courtesy of Christian Eriksen’s fine strike after seven minutes, but Mile Jedinak converted from the spot eight minutes after the half-hour mark to earn Australia a share of the spoils.

Following a 2-1 loss to France in their opening match, the Socceroos have a solitary point from their two matches so far and must beat Peru next Tuesday if they are to have any chance of advancing to the knockout round.

However, it could have been far worse for Bert van Marwijk’s charges as they fell behind after just seven minutes following a moment of brilliance by Eriksen.

A sublime Eriksen strike sent the Danes on their way

Latching onto a neat flick by Nicolai Jorgensen, the Tottenham playmaker met the bouncing ball with a superb first-time volley on his left foot past a hapless Mathew Ryan.

Denmark came close to doubling their lead in the 24th minute when Jorgensen got in ahead of his marker to meet Henrik Dalsgaard’s excellent right-wing delivery, but was just unable to divert a stooping header on target.

But, eight minutes before halftime, the Socceroos were presented with the perfect opportunity to equalise when – following confirmation with the Video Assistant Referee – they were awarded a penalty after Mathew Leckie’s header was blocked by Yussuf Poulsen with his hand.

Schmeichel and Kjaer voice their displeasure at the decision…

For the second consecutive match, Jedinak stepped up to the spot and showed nerves of steel as he sent Schmeichel the wrong way to make it 1-1.

As the match wore on, Australia grew in confidence and looked the likelier of the two teams to strike again.

Aaron Mooy tried his luck after being left in space outside the box in the 71st minute and his 25-yard piledriver had Schmeichel beaten all ends up, only for it to sail past the post.

Less than a minute later, though, Denmark threatened with a similar effort after Pione Sisto cut in from the left, but his effort bounced just wide after dipping towards the bottom corner.

Then, with two minutes remaining, the Socceroos almost snatched the win when substitute Daniel Arzani – who showed glimpses of quality in his 22-minute cameo – advanced down the left.

Nonetheless, Schmeichel stood tall to deny Arzani and then showed good agility to keep out an acrobatic attempt by Mathew Leckie moments later, as both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils.

DENMARK: Kasper Schmeichel, Henrik Dalsgaard, Simon Kjaer, Andreas Christensen, Jens Stryger Larsen, Lasse Schone, Thomas Delaney, Yussuf Poulsen (Martin Braithwaite 59’), Christian Eriksen, Pione Sisto, Nicolai Jorgensen (Andreas Cornelius 68’).

AUSTRALIA: Mathew Ryan, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, Mark Milligan, Aziz Behich, Mile Jedinak, Aaron Mooy, Mathew Leckie, Tom Rogic (Jackson Irvine 82’), Robbie Kruse (Daniel Arzani 68’), Andrew Nabbout (Tomi Juric 75’).