Match Report: Socceroos vs Saudi Arabia

The Socceroos greeted Saudi Arabia in what was their first match back on Australian soil since November 2019.

The anticipation throughout Western Sydney Stadium was infectious as the Socceroos began with the utmost intensity to place their opponents on the back foot in the crunch AFC Asian Qualifier.

Martin Boyle was proving to be a nuisance for Saudi’s defence as he led the line for the green and gold while Mathew Leckie enjoyed his first start since June after opting out of previous camps due to the quarantine requirements.

It was Leckie who produced the first real scare for the visitor’s defence when he placed extensive pressure on Saudi custodian Mohammed Al-Rubaie just after the quarter hour mark.

Fortunately for the Saudi keeper he managed to clear the ball just in time with a goal hungry Leckie on his heels.

Leckie challenging for the ball. Credit: Getty Images

The pressure kept coming the way of the Saudis who soon had to contend with an Ajdin Hrustic volley that bobbled wide after a well-placed Boyle cross from the right wing.

The remainder of the first half saw most of the action take place in the middle of the park with Graham Arnold’s men dictating possession against a finely tuned Saudi side.

The second half began with either side pressing one another, and it was once again the Socceroos who were able to create another great opportunity with the ball sliding across the opponent’s goal just missing an outstretched Leckie.

The Melbourne City recruit was at the centre of the action once again just before the hour mark as his close range effort was parried away. The pressure remained on the Saudis who were only moments later forced to deal with another scare as Jackson Irvine scuffed his effort from six yards out.

Arnold’s men were clearly thriving off the atmosphere as they tested the Saudi’s rear guard with a spectacular free kick from Awer Mabil that was parried before Boyle’s follow up was forced out for a corner.

The Socceroos managed to remain on top of proceedings however they would have counted themselves lucky to escape without punishment from a guilt-edged chance from Saudi captain, Salman Al-Faraj, that was smartly saved by Maty Ryan.

The momentum had now swung the way of the visitors who called Ryan into action on several occasions.

However, much to the relief of the home crowd it was the experience of the Aussie goalkeeper which prevailed as the Socceroos held on for a share of the points at a drenched Western Sydney Stadium.

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Socceroos Fixtures