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Tuesday, September 27 2022
All Whites go down 2-0 to Socceroos in Eden Park homecoming

The All Whites' long-awaited homecoming game didn't go to script at Eden Park on Sunday as the Socceroos snatched a 2-0 win in front of a record football crowd at the venue.

Mitchell's Duke's 54th-minute header gave them the lead, before a late Jason Cummings penalty ended the contest.

Australia were good value for the win, in a match of few chances, as their completely changed lineup seemed fresher, faster and more physical.

But the All Whites' plans were turned upside down by the loss of striker Chris Wood to injury after 32 minutes. Wood is the not just a talismanic figure but far and away the team's main attacking threat, having scored around 40 per cent of All Whites' goals against non-Oceania opposition since 2015.

That was a terrible blow, but the young New Zealand team still couldn't find their A game. They rarely hit the heights seen on Thursday, with the passing, delivery and decision making all a little bit off. Fatigue was a factor – as many had backed up – but they also seemed caught in two minds, as they tried to play more direct.

The fact they couldn't reach their potential in front of a 34,985 crowd was a real shame, but it was still a tremendous occasion. The teams had entered the field to a wonderful reception, with Winston Reid getting a special ovation after entering separately.

There was notable physicality from the start from the visitors, after coach Graham Arnold had criticised that side of the game in Brisbane and Wood was left clutching his ribs after a strong challenge from Socceroos defender Thomas Deng in the 12th minute. He returned to the field, but didn't look comfortable, though a sharp turn from the 30-year-old produced New Zealand's first shot, which deflected over the bar.

After a nervy start, the All Whites gradually settled into their work. The best first half chance came when Liberato Cacace and Elijah Just combined, but Just's low cross eluded their teammates in the six yard box.

Wood had been grimacing with every touch, and departed in the 32nd minute, replaced by Ben Waine, which was a devastating personal blow for the Newcastle striker.

Matt Garbett tried an ambitious long range shot – after a promising run – when a ball to the onrushing Payne would have been the better option, which summed up some of the decision making.

The All Whites were fortunate not to go behind just before halftime, after Marco Tilio missed an open goal from six yards. The home side were guilty of being over-elaborate and Duke broke into the box. He cleverly drew Sail, then rolled the ball across the six yard mark, but Tilio somehow scuffed his shot wide.

It was a major let-off. Australia had done their homework and compressed the spaces well, with Garbett and Just in particular given much less space.

The home side were strangely flat just after the interval, as the Socceroos dominated. Tilio forced a good save from Sail, before Duke gave them a deserved lead in the 54th minute, after getting between Reid and Nando Pijnaker.

Substitute Alex Greive had an early opportunity, but directed his shot straight at Andrew Redmayne; after Ben Waine's running had caused problems for the defence and Garbett had headed over the bar from a Waine cross.

Hay threw on reinforcements, via Michael Boxall (Reid), Storm Roux (Payne) and Ben Old (Garbett), but the 79th minute penalty from Jason Cummings sealed the deal.

The Australians had broken quickly from an All Whites' corner, with substitute Garang Kuol in the clear. Sail brilliantly saved the first effort, but Cacace was adjudged to have handled as he blocked a follow-up effort and Cummings coolly rolled his spot kick into the right hand corner.

All Whites 0
Socceroos 2 (Mitchell Duke 54', Jason Cummings 80' pen)
Halftime 0-0

As it happened: the international friendly between the All Whites and Socceroos at Eden Park.

Posted by: AT 04:21 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
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