Maty Ryan Receives Key to Country After Heroic Performance

Casually chilling in bed preparing for an all-nighter hoping the boys could get us to the Quarter Finals of the Asian Cup in 90 mins for multiple reasons: 

  1. My emotional well-being (I don’t handle extra time and penalty shootouts very well)
  2. Writing this at 2:30am or so is already going to be hard enough knowing me and my not so great typing skills.
  3. I want the almost 20 hour day I’m pulling to be worth it.

Moving on, I was personally happy to see Leckie named on the bench (YAY LECKS, but for real though I have a soft spot for Mat Leckie) and optimistic that we have the quality to get it done. But in all honestly at this stage no game is easy so we need to bring our A-game.

The first few minutes saw both sides test the waters. Trying to keep possession and suss out their opponents.

Totally understandable given the importance of the game that it would be a cagey opening, nobody wants to make a costly early error.

The 10th minute saw Mat Ryan pull a wonder save after a Eldor Shomurodov shot which was heading into the back of the net. Way too easy for the Uzbek forward, which didn’t sit well with us Australians.

Two mins later it was Aziz Behich with the first shot on target for the Socceroos but it was easily collected by the Uzbekistan goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov.

The Uzbeks seemed to gain momentum and confidence, starting to get more of the ball in the midfield, forcing the ‘Roos to get rid of the ball quickly losing possession thanks to sloppy passing.

Following a yellow booking in the 19th minute, Tom Rogic will miss the quarters if we win and I could’ve legit thrown something at Tommy just then.

*hmm wonder if he’s applying for A-League ref job, considering some of the refereeing we’ve seen he’d fit right in!

Until I saw the replay I thought it was a soft yellow If you ask me, given for a foot stomp after he was in possession of the ball and mid dribble, I’m presuming to nutmeg the defender and keep the ball. But looking at the different angles, yep 9 out of 10 times it’s a yellow.

Watching the side to side back passing from the Roos was giving me serious déjà vu from watching Melbourne Victory and sure enough confirms how much I HATE pin ball style side-to-side passes at the back.

IT WONT SCORE YOU GOALS LADS!

Just to wake me the hell up the 27th minute Javokhir Sidikov hit a rocket just wide of goal.

Dostonbek Khamdamov shanked his shot wide after finding space outside the box in the 36th and at this point it was a case of WHY DID I VOLUNTEER TO BE SLEEP DEPRIVED TO WATCH US PLAY FLAT, BORING FOOTBALL BEING DOMINATED BY UZBEKISTAN.

The 39th saw our best chance with a free kick awarded to Behich just outside the box. Mothers’ meeting of 5 players including Milligan and Rogic to decide who is taking the kick.

In the end it was Rogic who hit it straight into the bloody wall!

THIS IS NOT WHAT WE PLANNED OK!

A great run in the 43rd by Chris Ikonomides to try make something happen but he ran out of space when a group of Uzbek defenders pounced.

The Aussies lucky to head into the sheds 0-0

Uzbeks could rue their lack of finishing… but if we play the second like this it won’t be an issue.

Overall not a particularly fast paced entertaining half.

The Aussies started the second half looking a bit livelier with a Rhyan Grant header in the box following a great set of passes but it was straight to the keeper in the 57th.

Then a handy corner was earned by Mabil in the 59th but there was nobody at the back post and Grant followed on a poor clearance from the Uzbeks, he but sent it flying.

The Aussies improving from the first half not perfect yet but doing better. We earned another corner in the 65th, was taken short and overhit.

Mathew Leckie did indeed return replacing Mabil in the 67th. Interesting considering Mabil’s goals thus far in the tournament.

The 70th minute saw a chance go begging following a great ball in for Maclaren but he couldn’t get the final touch.

Not to be outdone Leckie was extremely unlucky to not score following a scramble on the goal line by Nesterov but Davron Hashimov managed to poke it clear in the 76th.

Rogic took a marvellous shot outside the area in the 79th, it took a deflection earning the ‘Roos a corner ! But Jackson Irvine couldn’t get the ball down on his head.

Unlucky!

Three minutes of stoppage time and neither team has capitalised yet. A header by Apo Giannou but straight to the keeper in the 90+1

Onto extra time it is.

Both sides couldn’t find the back of the net during extra time.

3:20am AEST and still going, to be 100% honestly I think everyone who has stayed up all night on a work night deserves a round of applause. Now onto the penalty shootout, oh boy it’s going to be huge !

First to the spot was El Capitano Mark Milligan his shot took a touch from Nesterov but found the net!

There’s 1!

But then Shukurov sends Ryan the other way!

1-1

Behich up next, and Nesterov saves it!

Tukhtakhodjaev up next and Ryan SAVES!

Hell yeah!

Robbie Kruse is the third in the lineup and hits it in the top!

2-1

Alibaev was up next to try and draw the Uzbeks level and he does, hitting it over Ryan’s head. What a hit!

2-2

Giannou slots it nicely, 3-2!

(I was trying very hard not to have a heart attack at this point ! )

Ryan saves Bikmaev’s shot!

Leckie now to seal it….

AND HE DOES!

4-2 and the Roos have gone through to the quarters !

It wasn’t pretty but we got through!

Now time to get some sleep, dreaming of Ryan’s beautiful saves and Leckie’s incredible finish!

By Jakie Manevski

Maty Ryan Receives Key to Country After Heroic Performance

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