Substitute Brett Holman struck with the last kick of the game to give Australia an undeserved 2-1 victory in their FIFA World Cup™ farewell friendly against New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Holman has been criticised for his lack of goals in national team colours in the past, but did his chances of booking his place on the plane to South Africa no harm when he coolly converted after Carl Valeri's clever lob in the third minute of added time. It was just the 26-year-old AZ Alkmaar forward's second goal in 30 international appearances and capped an otherwise forgettable display from the hosts - albeit in their first warm-up ahead of the finals.
New Zealand had gone ahead thanks to Chris Killen's close-range strike after 16 minutes. It took a debut goal from young midfielder Dario Vidosic to bring Australia level after 57 minutes before Holman clinched the win late on.
The Socceroos were also without six first-choice players with Mark Schwarzer (thumb), Harry Kewell (groin), Brett Emerton (hamstring), Josh Kennedy (back soreness) and rested defenders Luke Wilkshire and Scott Chipperfield on the sidelines. Regardless, New Zealand were by far the superior team in the first period, with vice-captain Tim Brown shooting just wide in the 11th minute before they went ahead five minutes later.
A Simon Elliott free-kick was flicked on by Shane Smeltz for Killen, who beat Mark Milligan to the ball at the far post and expertly placed his shot past debutant goalkeeper Adam Federici. The Kiwis should have been two goals up after the impressive Killen struck a post with a fantastic volley on the turn with Federici beaten.
The Socceroos were booed off at the break and coach Pim Verbeek responded by making five changes, replacing Federici, Cahill, Grella, Mark Bresciano and Craig Moore. Third-string goalkeeper Brad Jones took his place between the posts while Michael Beauchamp, Mile Jedinak, Holman and Valeri joined him.
That meant Jason Culina played a more attacking role in midfield and it was his positive forward run that, albeit with the aid of a lucky deflection, set up Vidosic who took his chance well with a low shot across Mark Paston. Rory Fallon should have restored New Zealand's lead soon after when he headed straight at Jones after Tommy Smith's inviting cross.
In any case, the All Whites looked to be headed for a confidence-building draw until Valeri's clever pass over the defence found Holman's run and the forward side-footed past the onrushing Paston.