Hrustic’s magical moment

Ajdin Hrustic, left, celebrates with teammate Nathaniel Atkinson after scoring the winner for the Socceroos against the United Arab Emirates in Qatar. 285374 Picture: AAP IMAGES

By Lachlan Mitchell

Dandenong locals Ajdin Hrustic and Bailey Wright have helped Australia inch one step closer to a place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

Australia was forced to find an alternate path to qualify for its fifth World Cup in a row.

The path would see them first take on the UAE, with a win seeing them progress to take on South-American giants Peru in a do-or-die inter-continental playoff match.

Australia faced an opportunistic UAE outfit in Qatar, the host country for the World-Cup.

A defensive snooze in the first half saw Australia play backwards and lack aggressive flair denying the UAE and themselves from hitting the back of the net.

The second-half saw the Socceroos come out with more vigour and a more attacking brand of football.

The rewards of playing a more attacking style of game would eventually fall Australia’s way.

Martin Boyle made a cutting run past defenders and into the box to set up Jackson Irvine, who caressed the ball past the keeper for Australia’s first.

The glory of the goal was short lived for Australia as the United Arab Emirates quickly found itself back on level terms just three minutes later.

A well swung-in cross left Australia’s defences breached, with Caio Canedo finding himself vacant within the 18-yard box and slamming home the leveller past Socceroos keeper Matt Ryan.

While Australia had dominated the run of play in the second-half a lapse in defence and composure had seen them concede only minutes after scoring.

Melbourne City’s Jamie Maclaren had an opportunity to put Australia ahead but could only find the keepers gloves in the 79th minute.

Set-pieces have been Australia’s biggest strength during this World Cup campaign and the Socceroos fifth corner of the match in the 83rd minute was one to remember.

Heatherton United’s Hrustic found himself poised on the edge of the box.

A driven-in corner from Aaron Mooy was deflected to the top of the box where Hrustic loaded his left leg to cannon the ball into a defender, and deflecting past the keeper for Australia’s second.

Hrustic’s magical volley was enough to see Australia hold on for the final 10 minutes and see the Socceroos progress to the next stage of qualifying.

Hrustic and Australia will face Peru on Tuesday morning (June 14) beginning the final step in qualifying for the World Cup.