Football 1 year ago

Socceroos down Greece with late strike

  • Socceroos down Greece with late strike

    Australia's players congratulate Mathew Leckie (C) after his goal against Greece during their international friendly football match in Sydney on June 4, 2016. / AFP / SAEED KHAN / IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Mathew Leckie has steered the Socceroos to a last-gasp 1-0 win over Greece, dramatically striking in injury time to break the deadlock in a high-tempo and physical friendly.

Australia threw everything at their visitors on Saturday night at ANZ Stadium, where the rain mercifully held off for the 38,682 who watched the first of two ties between the sides.

Four minutes after Tim Cahill's 89th-minute goal was disallowed when the ball went out of play, Leckie arrived to belt in the winner from the top of the penalty box in the final play of the match.

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Debutant Alex Gersbach provided the slick pass, proving instrumental in his 10 minutes on the field.

The goal was a long time coming for Ange Postecoglou's men who, despite their possession and 17 shots on goal to Greece's five, lacked the finishing touch on a patchy pitch.

Greece's signature defence provided a test for the Socceroos' developing attack, spearheaded by Greece-born Apostolos Giannou.

It was telling Michael Skibbe's visitors also brought the new-found aggression, with Apostolos Vellios nearly opening the scoring after one early attacking foray.

Greece were in danger of losing not one but two goalkeepers to injury amid a busy night for medics.

Starting gloveman Orestis Karnezis was forced off inside 10 minutes after copping a heavy blow in an aerial contest with Mile Jedinak before his replacement, Stefanos Kapino, was left worse for wear after smashing into the post while saving a would-be own goal.

That he continued was fortunate for Greece who, after a threatening start, were stretched and sapped as Australia became desperate to penetrate.

Nathan Burns should have netted first. With only Kapino to beat, the winger rolled his sliding effort wide before reinstated midfielder Mark Milligan narrowly cleared the crossbar and had another effort excellently saved by the Greece custodian.

Australia thought the time had come when Ioannis Maniatis recklessly brought down Robbie Kruse just inside the area, but calls for a penalty went unheeded.

Postecoglou shuffled the decks with half an hour to go, substituting Robbie Kruse and Aaron Mooy with Mathew Legic and Tom Rogic before bringing off Giannou and Burns for Tim Cahill and Chris Ikonomidis.

The spark was lit and the Socceroos attacked in waves, with Cahill heading just wide, Rogic following suit with his boot and Trent Sainsbury hitting the post.

Cahill's celebrations were cut short by the referee, but were ignited once more once Leckie had his moment.

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