Friday, June 23, 2006

Socceroos through to the final 16

The Socceroos have advanced to the last 16 of the World Cup finals for the first time after a thrilling 2-2 draw with Croatia in their Group F clash in Stuttgart.In the other game in the group Brazil came from a goal down to defeat Japan 4-1.The Socceroos twice came from a goal down to snatch the draw which sent them through, with Craig Moore (penalty) and Harry Kewell wiping out efforts from Darijo Srna and Nico Kovac.The only bad news on a brilliant night for Australian football was the late dismissal of Brett Emerton, who will miss the Socceroos next game against Italy.Croatia got off to a dream start when Darijo Srna beat the recalled Zeljko Kalac after just two minutes with a wonder free-kick, but the Socceroos hit back on 39 minutes from the penalty spot.Stjepan Tomas gave away the penalty with a needless handball, and former skipper Moore stepped up to blast the ball home.Croatia went back ahead after 56 minutes thanks to Kovac, although his weak shot from distance never looked like troubling Australia until Kalac somehow fumbled it, allowing the ball to trickle over the line.Australia hit back again though, with Kewell smacking a shot home with just 11 minutes remaining to draw his side level for the second time.The last 10 minutes descended into farce with Dario Simic seeing red for his second yellow card of the game, followed two minutes later by Emerton.Josip Simunic was then shown a second yellow card by referee Graham Poll, but remarkably wasn’t sent off, but the Australian-raised defender was then booked for the third time right on full-time, with a red card this time being waved in his direction.It was a day to forget for Poll, who turned down good claims for an early Australia penalty after skipper Mark Viduka was man-handled in the box, and then missed an even more blatant handball by Tomas in the second half as Australia pushed forward for an equaliser.The Socceroos won't care now however, with a dream clash against Italy for a place in the World Cup quarter-finals next up.

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