Don’t we all love a 10:40pm on a Tuesday kick off? With tea in hand, pyjamas on and laptop in my lap I was ready for the Socceroos’ World Cup Qualifier against Chinese Taipei.
It should be a comfortable win for Graham Arnold’s men following their 5-0 win against Nepal, but the football gods have a funny way of keeping us on our toes. Mat Ryan in goals and an attacking line up of Borrello, Taggart and Mabil with Mooy, Jeggo and Irvine in the midfield let’s see what the lads could do.
5 minutes in and the Aussies won a corner with Mooy to take it, a great header by Degenek but the keeper tipped it over the bar. Another corner, Degenek with another header but the Red Star Belgrade defender couldn’t capitalise on the chance. Adam Taggart decided it was time to break his six-year national team goal scoring drought in the 11th minute, when he sent in a brilliantly timed low header from a great ball by Rhyan Grant.
1-0 to the visitors and a solid start with plenty of possession for the Socceroos. The 14th minute saw the home side win themselves a corner to test the Aussies out. They managed to get a decent header in toward goal but luckily for those of us supporting the Green and Gold there was nobody on the back post and it went safely out for a goal kick.
Taggart packed his scoring boots with a brace in the 19th minute! A solid combination of attacking play from Mabil and Smith and he capitalised on the space in the box.
But Chinese Taipei wouldn’t go down with a fight pushing for possession and forced the Socceroos to drop back and defend. Mabil went to sleep or to be brutally honest decided ‘nah I can’t be bothered’ and switched off in the 21st minute, which then led to a solid cross from the home side. Grant couldn’t head it away, exposing Mat Ryan and a stunning header was sent into the back of the net.
Our BFG (Big Friendly Giant) Harry Souttar ran into the box looking for a goal in the 27th but also collected the keeper with his trailing arm. So a minor stop in play but nevertheless some solid pressure from the Socceroos.
The 30th minute saw Borello collect the poor goalkeeper from Chinese Taipei and he was given a yellow card for his troubles. Jackson Irvine then wanted to join the party lurking in the box in the 34th and netting his fourth goal for Australia in the process! 3-1 and looking like the Aussies might be getting ready to score a couple more before halftime.
Irvine really came to party scoring his second goal in a perfectly placed ‘on a silver platter’ delivery into the box by Awer Mabil in the 36 th minute. The Aussies were definitely in cruise control now at 4-1.
The fourth official showed 3 minutes to be added onto the first half, and the Aussies were looking to build toward a fifth goal but the pass from Mabil to Taggart was just a tad too much and it was out for a goal kick.
Half time and the visitors had a comfortable three goal lead heading into the sheds. A 47th minute scramble saw Taggart and Mabil trying to get the ball into the back of the net for the Socceroos’ fifth but they somehow couldn’t find the net. A flash later, there was a gorgeous free taken by Chinese Taipei which saw the Aussies narrowly escape conceding a second after a free header.
The home side looked to shore up their defence as the Aussies had to work harder in the opening minutes of the second half in the attacking third for time and space on the ball. The 54th minute had Emilio Estevez (yes I did google it just to make sure the lack of sleep wasn’t starting to affect my brain), find plenty of space in the Aussie defensive third to send a ball rocketing toward the goal…. but it went flying over the crossbar instead. Perhaps a little warning to the Australians not to slack off?
Jackson Irvine went looking for his hat trick in the 58th but to no avail, when he sent the ball up towards the stands instead. DAMN IT! C’mon mate!
The 63rd saw a free kick given to the Chinese Taipei side but Maty Ryan was off his line early and collected the ball in the air without any issues. The match was starting to be controlled by the Aussies with Chinese Taipei sending their squad into their defensive half. Following a free kick, the BFG in Harry Souttar seizes the moment and slots it into the back of the net in the 73rd .
A combination of play between Irvine, Hrustic and JMac saw Maclaren score another goal for Australia in the 84th . Decent run of form for JMac indeed! 6-1!
The scoring wasn’t over yet when Harry Souttar in the 88th used his height to his advantage and netted another goal via a header! That’s seven for the men in green and gold, whilst it was a better first half physically and in the quality of football we’ll take any goals when we can get them.
The fourth official signalled three minutes of stoppage time and could the Socceroos score an 8th goal or would Chinese Taipei find their second goal of the evening? Neither side managed to score in the last few minutes and the end result was a dominating 7-1 win for Australia.
To be fair I don’t think the Aussies were necessarily in first gear during the match, perhaps they were conserving energy but the goals scored were off the back of some decent pressure. You can only play the side in front of you and well done to the Socceroos for their professionalism and efforts. We’ll take the three points and onto the next game against Jordan in November in our qualification journey for Qatar 2022.
By Jakie Manevski