Australia dominate Peru in the final World Cup play-off and their rivals are under fire for a “devious plan” that has raised eyebrows.
The Socceroos have started their crucial World Cup play-off against Peru on a positive note, hoping to secure a spot in a fifth consecutive FIFA World Cup.
The Socceroos were heavy underdogs for the must-win match in Doha at the same venue at the Al Rayyan Stadium where the Socceroos defeated the UAE last week, but dominated the first half without getting the ball into the back of the net.
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The Socceroos announced a selection shake-up less than an hour before kick-off, with Adelaide United’s Craig Goodwin falling on the bench – and manager Graham Arnold betting his job with the decision.
The Socceroos attacked early, punctuating Peru’s goal with a series of chances and dangerous balls into the penalty area.
Despite the dominance, it is 0-0 at halftime.
Peru under fire for ‘cunning’ plan
Peru has used delaying tactics to frustrate the Socceroos as Australia dictated terms in the first half.
Peru coach Ricardo Gareca pulled his hair out of his team’s lack of pace, but Socceroos great Andy Harper said it could be the result of a “devious plan”.
“Australia looks really comfortable being allowed into the game and earning the right to acclimate to the game,” Harper said.
“I don’t know if Gareca would be so happy with his team’s lack of intensity to get the ball back into action. But maybe that’s part of their cunning plan.”
Socceroos’ great Luke Wiltshire told Network 10 at halftime that the dominance of Socceroos Peru players would have provided a “missile” from their coach.
“They didn’t look good,” he said.
“We dominated that half without going through and they are going to hit a rocket at half time. Their coach was not happy.
“I think they underestimated us. They’ve been sloppy. I think we’ve moved on without being clinical.”
Red-hot Socceroos make a big statement early
The Socceroos dominated the early exchanges and had the first five real shots on target.
Mitch Duke shot twice wide from outside the box before Jackson headed Irvine over the crossbar from an Aaron Mooy corner.
Martin Boyle also almost found Duke in the penalty area after 20 minutes with a flashy run-up from the corner of the penalty area.
It was a very positive, assertive start.
ABC’s Dan Colasimone posted on Twitter that the Socceroos “looked dangerous”.
The only problem of the first half was an early yellow card for defender Nathaniel Atkinson.
Graham Arnold makes big change to face Peru
Craig Goodwin has been dumped on the bench for Australia’s play-off with Peru, with Mitch Duke coming to the side to play up front.
The selection gamble moved Matthew Leckie to the left wing.
Socceroos great Mark Milligan said before kick-off that he was concerned about the ability of Australia’s four to handle whatever speed Peru can harness anywhere.
Arnold said before kick-off: “I feel excited and relaxed. It’s been since 2005 when we played a South American team in the final qualifier.
“I’m just excited to see the boys play and I’m here to help the boys.”
There are only four players left from the Australian team that played against Peru at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
‘Insane’ scenes for the World Cup Play-off
With more than 12,000 Peruvian fans expected in Doha, the crowd will be heavy on the Aussies.
“We have to get in their face,” Socceroos coach Graham Arnold told SEN radio this weekend.
“We have to make this a fight, a war of this, and make sure we rattle them when we get on the field. If we do, that’s our best chance.”
New South Wales Prime Minister Dominic Perrottet posted a video on Twitter: “Effort, aggression, dedication and desire are always qualities that our national football team has. Our Socceroos are very confident in their experience and on behalf of New South Wales we wish you every success in the pursuing the World Cup.”
After missing out on automatic qualifying, the Socceroos knocked out the United Arab Emirates in the Asian qualifying playoff last week to give themselves one last chance.
Socceroos in World Cup play-offs
1965 – lost to North Korea
1969 – lost to Israel
1973 – defeat South Korea
1985 – lost to Scotland
1993 – lost to Argentina
1997 – lost to Iran
2001 – lost to Uruguay
2005 – defeated Uruguay
2017 – beat Honduras
Originally published as Australia vs Peru Live: Socceroos dominate early as rivals slammed for ‘sly tactics’