Australia pulled off the biggest surprise in the tournament so far with a well deserved victory against Brazil in the final match of Group C at the Rashid Stadium in Dubai on Thursday. Two first-half goals from Anthony Danze and a third just after the break from Spase Dilevski put the young Socceroos three to the good before the South Americans pulled back two late goals. The result means Australia qualify in top spot, and in the last 16 will face the third-place team of groups A, B or F in Sharjah.
Wearing a changed all navy blue strip, Australia began the game well, looking calm and composed on the ball. Knowing the young Socceroos needed just a draw to be certain of qualification to the next phase, coach Ange Postecoglou tinkered with the line-up, surprising many by leaving captain and striker Scott McDonald on the bench and packing midfield.
“We thought we needed to work more in midfield with Alex up front who, because of his pace, could cause Brazil some problems,” explained Postecoglou later. “We have a strong squad and I wanted to bring in some fresh legs today.”
And it was one of the replacements, Dustin Wells, who had the first shot, firing over the top from distance (5). Brazil gradually began to assert themselves, patiently rolling the ball from side to side, waiting for the moment to apply the final, devastating pass.
The young Socceroos’ goal had two scares within three minutes. Daniel Carvalho, more prominent than against the Czechs, missed narrowly with a free kick after it clipped the top of the wall (24). Then Kleber, who had been strangely quiet up to now, found some space on the edge of the area and struck a low, skidding shot that was smartly save low down by Nathan Coe (26).
The game suddenly came to life as Australia snatched the lead. Wells’ shot hit a defender and Anthony Danze, reacting first, beat his man and struck it low and hard into the bottom corner giving keeper Fernando Henrique no chance (0-1, 31).
urprise turned into disbelief for Brazil six minutes later. Alex Brosque, playing as the lone striker, held the ball up intelligently before teeing up Wells. This time the Perth Glory man saw his drive crash off the post, hit the keeper’s body and rebound towards the net where Danze, running in, slammed the ball high into the net to the jubilation of the small Australian contingent in the stadium (0-2, 36)
Daniel Carvalho curled a free kick just wide before Brazil’s players dejectedly lagged into the dressing room.
Joy became unbridled ecstasy for Australia two minutes after the restart. Spase Dilevski won the ball knocked it to Brosque. Again the striker, with three men around him, held it up wonderfully well, feigned to go one way before supplying the killer pass to Dilevski. Continuing his run, the midfielder who plays for Rot-Weis Essen in Germany slipped the ball under the diving body of Henrique before being engulfed by the whole of the Australian bench (0-3, 47).
Brazil stormed forward. Daniel Carvalho had another free kick tipped over by Coe and from the resulting corner, just as he had done against Czech Republic, Adailton climbed highest but this time his header was kept out by the Internazionale keeper (49).
Daniel Carvalho belted over from distance (57) before Adailton amazingly missed from three yards. With Australia being pegged back increasingly more, Dudu’s header lobbed over Coe and onto the crossbar and back for Adailton, who astonishingly missed the gaping goal with his header (63).
Daniel Carvalho fired wide again (67) and substitute Juninho lashed over from free kick (71) before the same player scored a spectacular goal to pull one back. The midfielder chested down a clearance and smashed the ball into the top-hand corner from 25 yards (1-3, 75).
Brosque almost made it four with a curling effort before Brazil pulled another goal back to set up a grandstand finish. Again a Brazilian was given time to chest the ball down and, this time, Dudu volleyed home from just inside the area (2-3, 87).
The young selecao threw everything forward but the equaliser just would not come as Australia jigged a dance of delight for a well deserved victory.
“We did not underestimate Australia,” said Brazil coach Paqueta. “I don’t think we played badly. We just couldn’t react when they scored and when we did, it was too late. We will have Dagoberto (injured striker) fit for the next game.”
“For a country like Australia to beat Brazil is something else,” added Postecoglou. “I think it’s the first time we’ve done it at this level. We lost our shape in the last 20 minutes or so but this team still has a lot more to offer in the tournament.”