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All Whites midfielder Matt Garbett cops a rough challenge from opposite Aaron Mooy during New Zealand’s loss to Australia.
At Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane: Australia 1 (Awer Mabil 32’) All Whites 0. HT: 1-0
The All Whites’ first match against Australia in 11 years has ended in a narrow defeat.
A cracking strike from winger Awer Mabil in the 32nd minute gave the World Cup-bound Socceroos a 1-0 win at Suncorp Stadium on Thursday night in a long overdue clash between the two trans-Tasman rivals.
The Socceroos fielded their strongest available XI in their final game on home soil before the World Cup, with the entire starting lineup plying their trade outside of Australia’s A-League Men.
They created the better chances against an understrength All Whites missing several players due to injury, and probably should have had one or two more.
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But the New Zealanders put up a good fight against a nation ranked 64 places ahead of them, with promising youngsters Elijah Just and Matt Garbett further enhancing their reputations with standout performances in midfield.
Retiring captain Winston Reid did not play with coach Danny Hay opting to save him for Sunday’s send-off in Auckland, while goal-threat defender Bill Tuiloma only saw a few minutes off the bench after arriving late from the United States.
Both teams traded 12 shots apiece, but most of the All Whites’ attempts were low percentage strikes from distance that barely troubled goalkeeper Mat Ryan.
They should have opened the scoring 10 minutes into the match but forward Andre de Jong nudged his shot wide of the post after winning the race to a flick-on header from stand-in captain Chris Wood.
The Socceroos’ goal was special but came off an All Whites error. Joe Bell had his pocket picked by Jackson Irvine as he attempted to retrieve a pass from Michael Boxall under pressure on halfway.
Irvine quickly shuffled the ball across to Mabil, who brought the game to life by cutting inside Bell and dragging a right-footed shot past Oli Sail at the near post to break the deadlock.
Mabil’s goal came moments after Australia were harshly denied a goal via Trent Sainsbury with the referee awarding a free-kick to the All Whites for an apparent foul on Nando Pijnaker, though replays showed the centre-back had slipped under minimal contact.
The Socceroos were denied again late in the match with Oli Sail getting his fingertips to a Mathew Leckie shot and parrying the ball onto the post following fastbreak.
Oli Sail, Dane Ingham, Michael Boxall, Tim Payne (Bill Tuiloma 87’), Nando Pijnaker, Liberato Cacace (Deklan Wynne 71’), Joe Bell (Marko Stamenic 64’), Matthew Garbett, Elijah Just (Ben Waine 64’), Andre De Jong (Cam Howieson 71’), Chris Wood (Callum McCowatt 71’)
The big moment
A 32nd-minute rocket from Awer Mabil was all that separated the two trans-Tasman rivals. The breakthrough came after the Socceroos stole possession near halfway, allowing Mabil to cut inside Joe Bell and let rip from 20 metres out.
Player of the day
Matt Garbett picked up where he left off in the All Whites’ World Cup playoff against Costa Rica. Provided one of the highlights of the match when he powered through midfield, unleashing Elijah Just down the left. The Torino midfielder wasn’t afraid to try his luck from long-range either, stinging Mat Ryan’s gloves on a couple of occasions.
The big picture
The two teams head across the ditch to do it all over again at Eden Park in Auckland on Sunday in what will be the All Whites’ first home game in five years and captain Winston Reid’s last before retiring from international duty.