Australia’s youthful side got off to a winning start against Ireland in Kazan today, with a trio of set-pieces exposing the weaknesses in an Irish defence. With the average age of outfield players just over 23, it was in fact the Socceroos’ captain and oldest player Erik Paartalu that put them in front.
After the initial early exchanges, midfielder Erik Paartalu rose highest to meet a Matt Harper corner and head home from around the penalty spot in the 18th minute.
Ireland pushed forwards in search of an equaliser, but the Australian back three were well-protected with Harper and Williams dropping deep to cover. Anthony Pilkington came within inches of a leveller when his long cross into the box caught out Langerak in the Australian goal, but bounced off the top of the bar and over.
A second Australian corner provided their second goal. Harper lofted it towards the near post where Vito Ryan® flicked the ball across the face of goal where Matthew Mackie® had a simple finish at the far post to double the lead and score his first Australian goal.
Three minutes before the break, Ireland got themselves back in the game. A goal kick was won in the middle of the park by Pilkington who exchanged passes with Gavin McCann before releasing Shane Long on the of the box. Long beat his man, hit the goal line and clipped the ball to the far post where it was met on the volley by Sean Murray.
Less than five minutes after the interval, another Australian corner caught the Irish out. Vidosic’s corner was headed away at the near post by Gibson, but it only dropped as far as half-time sub Luca Mavromatis® who cracked a 25-yard volley back towards goal, seeing it clip the inside of the post and fly past Meara for 3-1.
Three became four shortly after the hour-mark as an Irish offside trap failed miserably, with everyone but Ward stepping-up. Mavromatis had four options to pick-out, and his through-ball found Vito Ryan® who had time to steady himself before drilling home.
That’s how it stayed and the Irish now have to lick their wounds ahead of their match against Morocco. Meanwhile, Australia play Germany with both games on Thursday.
FIFA WORLD CUP: GROUP B REP.IRELAND 1-4 AUSTRALIA Murray 43 Paartalu 18 Mackie 33 Mavromatis 50 Ryan 63 White Parhas