The Australia men’s national football team, nicknamed the Socceroos, has tied with the Danish squad in a crunch clash at the preliminary round of the 2018 Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) World Cup in Russia.
In a Group C match held at the Cosmos Arena in Samara on Thursday, the Aussies could earn a 1-1 draw against Danes, and kept their hopes of reaching the knockout round alive.
Australia coach Bert van Marwijk named an unchanged starting line-up for the game following the Socceroos’ opening 2-1 defeat to France five days earlier.
The Danish outfit got off to a sound start, and managed to take an early lead only seven minutes into the match.
Striker Nicolai Jorgensen, with calm and precision, directed the poorly cleared ball by Australia’s 27-year-old midfielder Aaron Mooy inside to Christian Eriksen who lashed a great half-volley that flew high into the net.
Denmark should have doubled it advantage shortly afterwards, when Jorgensen flashed a header wide at the near post.
Finally, Australia was awarded the opportunity to level the match from the penalty spot, thanks to the intervention of the Video Assistant Referee.
Spanish referee Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz had failed to notice that a header struck by the Socceroo’s forward Mathew Leckie had struck the arm of Danish Dynamite striker Yussuf Poulsen.
Australia captain Mile Jedinak calmly slotted home his penalty in the 38th minute to equalize.
The result fostered Australia’s sense of belief, and the Soccerroos surged forward in numbers whenever they could. They could not turn that impetus, however, into clear chances.
Both teams had chances in the tense second half. Iranian-born Daniel Arzani brought an additional spark to Australia attack after coming on as a substitute, and even had a good shot in the dying minutes that Denmark keeper Kasper Schmeichel parried.
Leckie also tested the Danish goalie with a hooked effort but to no avail.
Denmark, with four points, now needs at least a draw against France in its last Group C encounter to secure a berth in the Round of 16.
Australia, on the other hand, is clinging on by its fingertips with one point, and has to emerge victorious in its final match against Peru to stand any chance of going through.
During the official 2018 FIFA World Cup draw ceremony at Kremlin State Palace in the Russian capital city of Moscow on December 1 last year, the host nation, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Uruguay were put in Group A in the preliminary round of the tournament.
The Iran men’s national football team, nicknamed Team Melli, has joined Portugal’s A Selecção, Spain’s La Furia Roja and Atlas Lions of Morocco.
France is drawn in Group C, and is pitted against Australia, Peru and Denmark.
Argentina, Iceland, Croatia and Nigeria are drawn in Group D.
Group E consists of Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia.
While the 2014 FIFA World Cup champion Germany, Mexico, Sweden and South Korea shape Group F, Belgium, Panama, Tunisia and England are in Group G.
Group H has Poland, Senegal, Colombia and Japan.
The 2018 FIFA World Cup will take place from June 14 to July 15. Russia opened the event against Saudi Arabia in a Group A fixture at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium. The hosts won the match 5-0.
A total of 64 matches will be played in 12 venues located in 11 cities.