GALLERY: Socceroos on their way to Rio 

By , 10/08/2019 12:21

THE Socceroos will be going to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil after clinching a dramatic 1-0 win over Iraq at ANZ Stadium on last night.
Nanjing Night Net

The hero of the night was Josh Kennedy who, in his first Socceroos appearance for 19 months, headed home the winner from Mark Bresciano’s pin-point cross after 82 nerve-wracking minutes.

Until that point, Australia was headed for the unthinkable as Iraq – in an incredibly gutsy performance – managed to stave off their best efforts. Holger Osieck’s side clearly had the better of the occasion but genuine chances were few and far between, and the majority of the 80,523 felt they were about to witness a return to the painful botched qualification nights of decades past.

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Dallas Kilponen

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Dallas Kilponen

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Dallas Kilponen

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Dallas Kilponen

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Dallas Kilponen

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture: Getty Images

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

Action from the World Cup Qualifier Australia v Iraq, at ANZ Stadium on Tuesday. Picture Carlos Furtado

The surge of emotion around the stadium at the full-time whistle was as much relief as jubilation, such was the situation faced by the Socceroos barely 10 minutes before.

When Kennedy’s header floated past Iraqi goalkeeper Noor Sabri, the entire team – including the whole bench and support staff – drowned the towering striker in a sea of bodies by the corner flag.

It will be remembered as one of this nation’s defining football moments and served as fine reminder of why the Socceroos’ mental strength, which came to the fore final stage of qualification, is their greatest asset.

The Socceroos appeared to have clinched the lead when Robbie Kruse bulleted home a volley with 25 minutes to play but the referee disallowed the goal, controversially paying a foul against Sasa Ognenovski for an earlier infringement.

As expected, Osieck selected the same line-up for the third straight match, having kept faith the team who drew 1-1 with Japan and defeated Jordan 4-0 in Melbourne.

Australia pinned Iraq on the back foot from the opening whistle and nearly scored in the second minute when a Kruse interchange with Tim Cahill gave the latter a chance off his left foot but Noor Sabri saved brilliantly.

The Socceroos were clearly in control by the time Lucas Neill, somewhat bizarrely, set up Ognenovski, only for his defensive partner to head over the bar.

However, while the Socceroos were pushing forward, they still hadn’t found a way to breach the stubborn opposition being put up by Iraq.

If anything, one had to be impressed at how composed Iraq seemed, despite having five teenagers in their starting side. In particular, the central midfield combination of Khaldoun Ibrahim and the 19-year old Saif Salman was holding up very well. Within a minute of the second half resuming, the Socceroos showed their vulnerability when Salman lashed an effort from range that Mark Schwarzer could only gather at the second attempt.

The rain began to tumble around the Olympic venue and a cheer went up on the hour mark as Osieck brought on Tom Rogic for Brett Holman.

Frustrations were starting to boil over and when Kennedy replaced Cahill in the 78th minute, he shared words with Osieck.

Cahill waved away the coach after his explanation for being substituted.

Osieck followed up with another change a minute later, bringing on Archie Thompson for Kruse.

It would be his last tactical roll of the dice as the Socceroos went to three at the back.

But just as it seemed the night would end in disaster, Bresciano picked out Kennedy, and the Socceroos were finally on the road to Rio.

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