MD5 - Group B: Jordan 0-1 Australia
Amman: Australia took a major step towards the next round of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023, moving five points clear the top of Group B with 1-0 win over Jordan on Thursday.
Adam Taggart’s early lob helped the Socceroos exorcise the demons of previous failures in the Jordanian capital, but they had to withstand a second-half rally from a Mousa Suleiman Al Tamari-inspired Al Nashama.
Jordan’s defeat coupled with Kuwait’s big win over Chinese Taipei, sees Vial Borkelman’s side drop to third on goal difference with seven points, while Australia lead the race with a perfect 12 from their opening four matches.
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Amman hadn’t previously been a happy travel destination for Australia, who had lost there in 2012 and 2015, but they looked perfectly at home in the opening stages with Taggart taking only 13 minutes to put them ahead.
Leading the line in place of the absent Jamie Maclaren, Taggart made sure he left an impression at King Abdullah II Stadium, delicately lifting the ball over advancing Jordanian goalkeeper Amer Shafi and into the net after being supplied by a wonderful Jackson Irvine pass.
Irvine was involved in the action again when his half-volley at goal flew over the crossbar from six yards following a corner kick, with winger Awer Mabil firing wide from a tight angle not long after as Australia missed opportunities to extend their lead before the interval.
Borkelmans introduced the talented Al Tamari at half-time, and the 22-year-old made a difference almost immediately, snaking his way past two defenders before flashing an effort across goal just four minutes after his arrival.
Al Tamari’s presence lifted Jordan. Yaseen Bakheet – arguably their best in the opening 45 minutes – forced Mat Ryan into an important near post save, before Al Tamari’s excellent cross found an unmarked Tareq Khattab, with the towering defender disappointed to miss the target in the 66th minute.
Graham Arnold introduced Mitchell Duke and Martin Boyle as Australia tried to regain a sense of control, but Jordan continued to knock on the door, with Ryan called into action to deny Hamza Al Dardour’s header.
Ryan was a key figure for Australia, particularly in the latter stages, when he stood firm to deny Bakheet once again in the 90th minute, although the Jordanian midfielder would have been disappointed his effort after another Al Tamari-designed opportunity came and went.
But, while Jordan produced a much-improved second half performance, the equaliser they craved never materialised, leaving them little room for error in their four remaining matches, while Australia emerged from the toughest challenge of their campaign so far with maximum points.
Photos: Jordan Football Association
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