Harry Souttar’s sixth goal in just his fifth appearance for the Socceroos has sealed Australia’s perfect passage into the next round of the Asian Football Confederation’s 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
The giant defender headed home a second-half Martin Boyle corner to secure the Socceroos a 1-0 win over Jordan on Wednesday morning.
The victory was Australia’s eighth from eight Group B matches to give them the perfect second-round qualifying record that coach Graham Arnold had demanded entering the condensed block of four games in Kuwait City.
While it was joy for the Socceroos, the result ended Jordan’s hopes of progressing to the next stage of qualifiers.
The Socceroos had to battle for the victory, with Scotland-born Souttar’s winner not coming until the 77th minute.
The desperate Jordan then lost their way as tempers flared, with Mousa Mohammad Suleiman sent off in the 87th minute for striking the face of Socceroos left back Aziz Behich.
Socceroos boss Arnold promised to start with his best possible XI in a contest that he last week described as his side’s “final” despite the Australians having already secured a spot in the next qualifying stage.
But it was a starting team and a bench that didn’t include experienced attacker Mat Leckie, who was ruled out with general soreness
Fellow forward Mitch Duke, who had tasted action in the Socceroos’ previous three games in Kuwait City, also wasn’t a part of the match-day squad after being given permission to leave camp early to head to the United Kingdom to see his young family.
Goalkeeper Mat Ryan was named captain of a side that included three central defenders – Souttar, Milos Degenek, and Trent Sainsbury, who made his 50th appearance for Australia.
A-League Golden Boot Jamie Maclaren was given the nod to lead the Socceroos’ forward line, but failed to make an impact in a 70-minute stint before being replaced by the fit-again Adam Taggart, who made his first appearance in the Kuwait City hub.
Earlier, Jackson Irvine had the first chance of the match in just the third minute.
The Hibernian midfielder burst through heart of Jordan’s engine room before unleashing with a shot that sizzled just inches over the crossbar.
It was the Socceroos best opportunity of the first-half, although impressive midfielder Ajdin Hrustic forced a save out of Jordan goalkeeper Moataz Yaseen with an angled strike from distance in the 17th minute.
Australia 1 (Harry Souttar 77’) d Jordan 0 at Jaber Al-ahmad International Stadium, Kuwait City.
Socceroos: Mat Ryan (c), Rhyan Grant (Fran Karacic 90+3’), Harry Souttar, Milos Degenek, Aziz Behich, Trent Sainsbury, Kenny Dougall (James Holland 70’), Jackson Irvine, Ajdin Hrustic (Riley McGree 83’), Martin Boyle (Awer Mabil 83’), Jamie Maclaren (Adam Taggart 70’).