Late Kennedy strike sends Socceroos to Brazil

GUY HAND
Last updated 05:00 19/06/2013
Josh Kennedy
Getty Images

ON THE WAY TO RIO: Josh Kennedy celebrates his 83rd minute goal that sent Australia to the World Cup in Brazil next year.

Relevant offers

Football

Kevin Fallon says NZ Football heads must roll in player-eligibility fiasco New Zealand striker Chris Wood scores wonder goal for Leeds United Deklan Wynne on trial for Major League Soccer club Vancouver Whitecaps Coliseum Sports Media continuing to push the sports TV boundaries Jose Mourinho eyes early chance to strike blow on Arsene Wenger Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick still on the hunt for gun goal-scorer Brazil midfielder Fred tests positive for banned substance at Copa America England striker Rickie Lambert leaves Liverpool to join West Bromwich Albion Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla sign new Arsenal contracts Community Shield: Arsenal out to make statement of intent against Chelsea

The Socceroos are through to the World Cup finals next year after beating Iraq 1-0 at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday night in their Asian Group B qualifier.

Substitute Josh Kennedy scored the winner in the 83rd minute.

The victory ensures Australia second place in Group B, and automatic qualification behind group winners Japan for next year's tournament in Brazil.

Iraq midfielder Saif Salman, who bossed the game throughout, then forced Mark Schwarzer into a huge save two minutes after halftime as the rain teemed down and the clock ticked down.

As the Socceroos looked as if they were meandering, coach Holger Osieck then introduced young gun Tom Rogic for the ineffective Brett Holman on the hour - and the impact was immediate.

Rogic had three shots in three minutes and immediately gave the Iraq defence concerns.

Then Kennedy struck, ran to the corner flag and was piled upon by teammates as the road to Rio next June suddenly cleared.

Kennedy rated the strike the most important of his career.

"I really don't know what to say - it's amazing," Kennedy told Fox Sports.

Captain Lucas Neill admitted the performance wasn't great, but it was a case of mission accomplished.

"I'm proud of everybody. It's been a really tough campaign. We've stuck at it, showed mental strength," Neill said.

"Sorry, it wasn't pretty. But we've beaten what was in front of us and pushed ourselves on to a very exciting tournament."

The result secured Australia second place in Asian Group B behind winners Japan, with the top two teams from both groups qualifying for Brazil.

Australia 1 (Josh Kennedy 83m) Iraq 0 at ANZ Stadium. Crowd: 80,523. Referee: Faghani Alireza

Ad Feedback

- AAP

Special offers
Opinion poll

Will Burnley retain their EPL status?

Yes, they've found a winning formula

Maybe, but there’s a long way to go

No. They lack quality in certain areas

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content