Jedinak sends Socceroos to Russia
Australia beat Honduras 3-1 in CONCACAF/AFC Play-off second leg
Captain Mile Jedinak the hero with a hat-trick
Socceroos qualify for their fourth successive FIFA World Cup
Mile Jedinak was the unlikely goal hero as Australia claimed the 31st ticket to the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ with a 3-1 win over Honduras.
The Socceroos captain scored a brace of penalties after seeing an earlier free-kick deflected in off the luckless Henry Figueroa to spark jubilant scenes in Sydney.
Australia’s resounding victory, on the back of a goalless draw in the first leg of the sides’ CONCACAF/AFC Play-off second leg, takes the team to a fourth successive World Cup.
A crowd of 77,060 roared their approval at the end, although there was plenty of tension in the stands during a tight and goalless first half. Tom Rogic wasted the best chance during that period, scuffing a first-time left-foot shot into the arms of Donis Escober after Aziz Behich had combined brilliantly with Tim Cahill before cutting the ball back.
Rogic atoned for this miss nine minutes into the second half, though, with a thrilling solo run that brought Australia a free-kick on the edge of Honduras’s box. Jedinak assumed responsibility and his powerful right-foot shot took a wicked deflection off Figueroa, sending the ball spinning away from the wrong-footed and helpless Escober.
Cahill then sent a looping header against the face of the crossbar before Australia doubled their lead from the penalty spot with 18 minutes remaining. Bryan Acosta was penalised for a handball and, while Escober guessed correctly, diving low to his right, Jedinak’s spot-kick was accurate and powerful enough to evade his grasp.
The Socceroos skipper wasn’t done yet, and added another goal to his name with five minutes remaining. Again, it was from the spot after a clear foul by Jerry Palacios on Robbie Kruse, with Jedinak outfoxing Escober on this occasion with a penalty drilled straight down the middle.
Maynor Figueroa pulled a goal back in the fourth minute of stoppage time, scrambling home from a corner, but it was of little consolation to a Honduras side who will watch from the sidelines as Australia take on the world at Russia 2018.