The Socceroos ended a three-match slump with a much-needed 4-0 win over Vietnam on Thursday night.
Celtic star Tom Rogic reminded Australia of just how devastating he can be with one of the most influential performances of his international career, while a pair of bench stars put their name up in lights.
Here’s how every Socceroo rated in the World Cup Qualifier!
Mat Ryan: 9
Australia’s brick wall between the posts once again. Made a stunning block from a rifled close-range effort in the second half to deny Vietnam what would have been a deserved goal. Capped off his strong performance with an assist to go with a clean sheet – his 24th for the Socceroos, equal second all-time with Zeljko Kalac behind Mark Schwarzer’s 44.
Fran Karacic: 6
Arguably the poorest performer of the defensive unit, Karacic’s attacking mindset was not fully matched by his performance. His crossing was poor – none of his five attempts were successful – while his passing in general was below-par. He did make four pass breakups, the most of any Australian. But his combination with Martin Boyle down the right flank was disappointing throughout.
Trent Sainsbury: 6.5
A calm and assured performance from the sweeper, who led a new-look backline through some sketchy moments – particularly at the start of the second half as Vietnam surged out of the break with great intent. Sainsbury made a team-high five intercepts and read the game brilliantly.
Milos Degenek: 6.5
With man mountain Harry Souttar missing, USA-bound Degenek proved he’s still a more than capable figure at the back. He always seemed to be in the way of Vietnam’s attack, throwing his body around with a pair of solid blocks.
Joel King: 7
A sensational debut for the 21-year-old Sydney talent, who was handed his maiden cap after Aziz Behich was bizarrely stranded in Turkey by a blizzard. Passed well, especially with some nice crosses, defended stoutly, and ran hard all night. Will be hard to drop against Oman next week – and on the evidence of last night’s performance, King can start dreaming of being on the plane to Qatar for the World Cup at the end of the year.
Jackson Irvine: 6.5
In a more advanced position that better reflects his club role in Germany, Irvine’s off-the-ball work was crucial to opening Vietnam’s defence. His constant movement dragged defenders out of position and created spaces for Rogic to operate in. Made a number of key tackles and intercepts, but was overrun in midfield in the second half.
Aaron Mooy: 6
Wasn’t at his incisive best but did provide a solid base for Rogic and Irvine to push forward. Struggled in the second half when offered less space by Vietnam’s midfield. The big question moving forward will be how Arnold deploys Mooy once Ajdin Hrustic returns.
Tom Rogic: 9
His best Socceroos performance in years – if not ever. Could have had a goal inside 20 seconds, but made up for VAR’s ruthless rejection by making no mistake with a delightful finish just before halftime. That came after a pinpoint cross to Jamie Maclaren to open the scoring.
Coach Rene Meulensteen, in charge for the game with Arnold absent, said: “He was an enormous driving force for us, he picked up the right positions for us to play through the lines and then he’s got that skill, ability and intelligence to find those clever passes to get in behind … It was an outstanding performance for him all around and that’s what you want from players of that calibre. They are the difference makers for us and he certainly did that tonight.”
Martin Boyle: 5
Started in sensational style by taking on two defenders and fizzing a cross into the box for Rogic to bury the ball into the net. Unfortunately it was ruled out by VAR, and Boyle subsequently went off the boil. Boyle, who recently sealed a $5.6m deal to Saudi Arabia, failed to have his regular impact and never really threatened in attack.
Jamie Maclaren: 7
The job of a striker is to score goals, and Maclaren made no mistake with a thumping header. He always finds a way to pop up in space in the box, and his red-hot form in clubland carried over to the green and gold. Didn’t get on the ball as often as he’d like, but that was largely down to Vietnam’s compact defence.
Mathew Leckie: 8
A vintage performance from the 30-year-old, who always looked dangerous down the left wing. Slid through Tom Rogic on the brink of halftime with a perfectly weighted assist. Came close to scoring on more than one occasion.
Craig Goodwin: 8
A thoroughly impressive effort off the bench, scoring his first Socceroos goal with an ice-cold chip. Added an assist for good measure.
Riley McGree: 8
After a string of good performances in the Tokyo Olympics, McGree appears to be finally ready to make the step up to a consistent performer in the senior side. Scored his first goal and looked full of confidence.
Mitch Duke: 7
Was crucial to the Socceroos’ wrestling back momentum in the second half after Vietnam’s triple change at halftime saw them push higher and threaten the Australian defence. In a marker of his involvement, he had 15 possessions in only 24 minutes – just one touch less than the 16 accrued by the man he replaced in Jamie Maclaren.
James Jeggo: N/A
Shored up the ship for the final nine minutes, recycling possession and ensuring the Socceroos saw out the match comfortably. Could well figure as a starter against Oman to allow Hrustic to return.
Marco Tilio: N/A
A deserved debut for the 20-year-old talent, who also didn’t have enough time to make an impact. Will be looking for more minutes against Oman.