Well here we are another match day over and for the first time in 3 World Cup Qualifiers the Socceroos have 3 very crucial points in the bag. Admittedly they did make a bit of hard work out of the first half against Vietnam but at the end of the day 3 points is 3 points and wow is it more then crucial.
The game almost started perfectly with a goal in the 2nd minute by Tom Rogic that was controversially ruled out due to offside yet from my point of view I honestly feel it was the right call due to the player being in the keeps line of sight. Despite how that could have hurt the spirits the Aussies still kept pushing forward hard and fast and not waiting for anything to happen. The team did have to work hard going forward and tracking back in the first half as Vietnam seemingly decided to play heavily on the counter when playing forward but by also sitting the majority of the team back in defense.
Matthew Leckie seemed to be the most dangerous player early on when cutting back on the inside and despite what I feel was border line dives whenever he went into the box and seemingly looking for contact he had our best chance to begin the fixture (apart from the disallowed goal) on the 17th minuteNow i know it might seem a bit silly on my behalf to think like that but Vietnam did start building into the game even more as the game went on until the 30th minute when Jamie Maclaren finally put the Socceroos in the lead with a header at the back post following a beautiful cross from Tom Rogic. Not long after that and they nearly doubled the advantage in the 32nd minute but for an over hit through ball meant for Boyle that ended up in the hands of the keeper. The game definitely began to open up a lot more from this point as the Vietnamese tried to push on and get an unlikely equalizer but as the field spreads Vietnam find themselves pushing hard to give extra cover causing a bad challenge on Tom Rogic leading to the first yellow card of the night.. As good as we were looking early on it was feeling like we weren’t taking our chances and I was getting a little worried as we know how the World Cup Qualifiers for Australia go and especially in games they are meant to win.
Now i know it might seem a bit silly on my behalf to think like that but Vietnam did start building into the game even more as the game went on until the 30th minute when Jamie Maclaren finally put the Socceroos in the lead with a header at the back post following a beautiful cross from Tom Rogic. Not long after that and they nearly doubled the advantage in the 32nd minute but for an over hit through ball meant for Boyle that ended up in the hands of the keeper. The game definitely began to open up a lot more and Vietnam give away another free kick that nearly set up the 2nd goal. Following the influx of chances and constant wonderful tracking back by the Vietnamese defenders Leckie finds himself having an almost perfect chance to score but he began falling backwards as he was making connection to the ball.
As it seems the Aussies are almost certain to grab a second Vietnam push on with a quick break in the 43rd minute that leads to their first attempt on target in the game yet it had less power behind it then some passes that are attempted in other games as the insipid shot is chipped into Matt Ryan’s hands. From here Australia appears to begin playing out the half and building up stats until they work a shot for Tom Rogic that ends with Vietnam making a quick break that ends with Matt Leckie receiving a yellow card. We then move into 2 minutes of injury time in which Vietnam began to gain some more control and leads to Vietnam creating a well worked chance that lead to Australia winning a free kick close to half way that Australia takes quick and leads to Rogic finally getting on the score sheet after having his goal rubbed out in the 2nd minute giving the team a 2-0 lead heading into half time.
Heading into the second half Vietnam make 3 changes in an attempt to liven up the action for their team while following the hot weather in Melbourne the weather begins to turn as the rain begins to fall. These changes seem to work as Vietnam begins the second half the strongest and even though it was off target they get the first shot of the half away as they try and find a way back into the game Vietnam begin pushing the Australians to look to play the ball back wards. Vietnam then create another chance however the offside flag goes up.
Following the almost back and forth moments of the game Matthew Leckie has a headed shot blocked which leads to Vietnam to get more creative as they work their way up field and almost get a goal back, the ball finds it’s way back up to the other end of the field and to the feet of debutante Joel King who plays a trademark long ball down the wing which ends up going out for a corner following a keeper blunder that leads to a throw in that ends up producing nothing. After a solid 10 minutes to begin the half by Vietnam, Australia begins to work themselves back into the fixture by controlling the ball and getting the majority of the 27,740 strong crowd into the game. Then in the 62nd minute as Vietnam have what can only be claimed as their best chance of the night with a shot from around the penalty spot that is saved by Ryan despite not knowing anything about it. From here for a little while the game goes slightly quiet as Australia start looking a little lost in terms of the game.
Australia quickly found themselves getting back in control following couple of astute substitutes lead to one of the men brought on in Craig Goodwin finding the back of the net for Australia’s 3rd goal of the night following a direct through ball from Matt Ryan in the 72nd minute that caught the Vietnam team’s defenders on the back foot but the clever chip by Goodwin to beat the keeper. Barely 4 minutes later Riley McGree makes it 4 for Australia and becoming the second substitute to get on the score sheet and almost confirming the win if it wasn’t already confirmed.
From there the game just seemed to play out with not much happening in terms of goal mouth action as it appeared that both the teams were content with how the game was playing out. There were 2 more real chances created both for Australia but they never seemed likely to score again the closest would have been Marco Tilio in injury time but besides that it was game over and Australia had a crucial win on the board.
While yes this was a comfortable win I believe that Vietnam can consider themselves extremely unlucky to walk away not scoring a goal in the game. Thank fully we got the 3 points on the board but we definitely have things to work going forward as we have our remaining games against way tougher opponents with one next week against Oman and that fixture is to be followed up in march with games against the top 2 teams in the group Japan and Saudi Arabia. These remaining fixtures are extremely critical to making sure we don’t have to go through the inter-continental playoffs that may result in a potential fixture with a side from South America and boy oh boy do we know how they can play out good and bad. I’m hopeful that it doesn’t come down to that and have my fingers crossed we can get the job done with automatic qualification.