Soccer-Australia edge Peru on penalties to claim World Cup spot

REUTERS/Mohammed Dabbous
Soccer Football – FIFA World Cup Qualifier – Australia v Peru – Al Rayyan Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar – June 13, 2022 Australia’s Andrew Redmayne and Australia’s Aziz Behich celebrate after qualifying to the FIFA World Cup.

DOHA (Reuters) – Australia’s dancing substitute goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne saved the last penalty to clinch a place at this year’s World Cup in Qatar as they edged Peru 5-4 in a shootout following a 0-0 draw after extra time in an inter-continental playoff on Monday.

Redmayne danced across the goal-line before diving to the right to stop a penalty from Alex Valera and hand Australia a deserved victory at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

Redmayne had been brought on three minutes from the end of the game for the shootout and became an instant hero with his antics on the line as he looked to distract the rival kickers.

He danced up and down, wiggling his hips and throwing his arms about in a throwback to the clowning antics of Liverpool’s Bruce Grobbelaar when they won the European Cup in 1984.

It was enough for Luis Advincila to fire his effort against the post and then Valera to have his effort saved as Australia qualified for a fifth successive World Cup and a sixth in total.

They will play in World Cup Group D with holders France, Denmark and Tunisia. The finals run from Nov. 21-Dec. 18.

“I am just so proud of the players,” said Australia coach Graham Arnold. “Really no one knows what these boys have been through to get here, it was so hard, the whole campaign. The way they stuck at it, the way they committed themselves, brilliant.”

Australia’s Martin Boyle had missed their first penalty but they converted the next five to silence the thousands of Peru fans who had travelled for the game and provided noisy support but saw their team conjure up few opportunities.

Instead, a workmanlike Australia dominated the early exchanges, with winger Boyle twice cutting through the Peruvian defence to provide teasing crosses.

Limited efforts

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with limited efforts on goal until the 80th minute when Australia suddenly had three good opportunities to win the match.

Ajdin Hrustic’s tame free kick was easily saved by Peru captain Pedro Gallese and five minutes later Aziz Behich broke through two tackles and suddenly found himself in front of goal but narrowly missed as he tried to curl his shot into the net.

Then a run down the left by Australia substitute Awer Mabil saw him slip the ball into the path of Hrustic but he did not get enough power on his shot and Gallese saved again.

Nine minutes into extra time Australia’s Mathew Ryan was finally tested by a stinging shot from Edison Flores that the goalkeeper saved.

Flores then headed against the post as the South Americans found an extra gear in the closing stages but they were still unable to settle the result after two hours of play, setting the stage for Redmayne to emerge as a hero.

Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said: “We had the expectation to make it, we were close but unfortunately it was not the case.

“We are flooded with pain. We gave our utmost. They emptied their tanks and we feel deceived we are out of the World Cup. We wanted to avoid the penalty shootout.”

The single game playoff between the fifth-placed finishers in Asian and South American qualifying determined the 31st place at this year’s World Cup.

On Tuesday, the last place at the finals will be decided when Costa Rica and New Zealand clash in their inter-continental playoff, also at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.