Australia won a World Cup game for the first time since 2010 with a hard-earned victory against Tunisia on Saturday.

The Socceroos kept their hopes of reaching the last 16 alive with a dogged performance in Qatar, keeping the Eagles of Carthage at bay and picking up their first points of the tournament.

A tense opening 20 minutes yielded little in way of chances, with Youssef Msakni dribbling the ball through the six yard box and out for a goal kick in the only real foray for either side early on.

Mohamed Drager lashed a shot from range high and wide soon after as Tunisia at least began to show a little bit of adventure, before they were hit with a suckerpunch at the other end.

Craig Goodwin burst down the left flank and managed to pick out a cross – albeit via a deflection off of Drager – for Mitchell Duke, who did well to contort his body and neck to steer a header up and beyond Aymen Dahmen to give Australia the lead.

Drager spurned another opening for Tunisia after catching the Socceroos cold from a quick throw-in, with his close-range strike blocked off the line by Harry Souttar.

Tunisia should have levelled on the stroke of half-time when Msakni fired wide from six yards out having met a low cutback from Issam Jebali, and Australia went into tthe interval leading in a World Cup game for the first time.

Mathew Leckie came close to doubling the lead midway through the second half as he attempted to meet Jamie Maclaren’s low cross, but there was too much venom on the ball and the chance went begging.

In dying need of a goal, centre-back Montassar Talbi lashed a volley at goal with under 10 minutes remaining, but it was easily held by Mat Ryan.

The chances were coming too late for Tunisia, with Wahbi Khazri next up to aim straight down Ryan’s throat.

Ultimately, Tunisia didn’t ask enough questions of Australia and are now staring down the barrel of elimination with France up next for them. The Socceroos round off the group stage against Denmark.

GK: Aymen Dahmen – 5/10 – Didn’t have too much to do.

CB: Dylan Bronn – 6/10 – Endured tough battles with the tireless Goodwin.

CB: Yassine Meriah – 5/10 – Uncomfortable on the ball but made some good recovery challenges.

CB: Montassar Talbi – 6/10 – Largely got the better of Leckie.

RM: Mohamed Drager – 6/10 – Lively going forward in his only half of football, though was rather wasteful.

CM: Ellyes Skhiri – 5/10 – At the heart of most of Tunisia’s best spells, but there simply weren’t enough of them.

CM: Aissa Laidouni – 4/10 – Contributed little compared to his midfield partner.

LM: Ali Abdi – 5/10 – Roamed forward but didn’t tangibly have too much of an impact.

RF: Naim Sliti – 3/10 – Aside from a brief spell at the start of the second half, Sliti was very quiet.

LF: Youssef Msakni – 4/10 – Wasted the good chances he got and was on the periphery of the game when not harming his side’s attacks.

CF: Issam Jebali – 5/10 – Linked up well with his other forwards but wasn’t too threatening himself.

SUB: Ferjani Sassi (46′ for Drager) – 3/10

SUB: Wahbi Khazri (67′ for Laidouni) – 4/10

SUB: Taha Yassine Khenissi (74′ for Jebali) – 4/10

SUB: Wajdi Kechrida (74′ for Bronn) – 4/10

Manager: Jalel Kadri – 4/10 – Made changes to try and turn the tide but Tunisia looked way off it from the start.

GK: Mat Ryan – 7/10 – Made a couple of decent saves down the stretch.

RB: Fran Karacic – 7/10 – Useful at both ends of the pitch and put in a great shift.

CB: Harry Souttar – 9/10 – Got his head on absolutely everything and his distrubution was excellent. Provided several key tackles and blocks.

CB: Kye Rowles – 7/10 – Held the fort well alongside Souttar.

LB: Aziz Behich – 6/10 – Got beaten a bit easily in a few duels but was largely fine.

CM: Aaron Mooy – 8/10 – Dug in deep to do the dirty work, but provided great technical ability in the midfield battle too.

CM: Jackson Irvine – 6/10 – Weeved his way between the lines and partnered Mooy well.

AM: Riley McGree – 5/10 – Wasn’t involved as much as Australia’s other midfielders.

RW: Mathew Leckie – 6/10 – Delivery wasn’t as on point today but he made good decisions and fought for the team.

CF: Mitchell Duke – 8/10 – Worked ever so hard for the team and took his goal extremely well.

LW: Craig Goodwin – 7/10 –
Never stopped running. A bit of fortune about his assist but the move between him and Duke deserved a goal.

SUB: Jamie Maclaren (64′ for Duke) – 6/10

SUB: Ajdin Hrustic (64′ for McGree) – 6/10

SUB: Milos Degenek (76′ for Karacic) – 6/10

SUB: Keanu Baccus (85′ for Leckie) – N/A

SUB: Awer Mabil (85′ for Goodwin) – N/A

Manager: Graham Arnold – 7/10 – Australia’s dedication and defensive resilience is a credit to their manager.

Player of the Match – Harry Souttar


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