The Socceroos maintained their unbeaten qualifying campaign against the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday night with a 2-0 win. With only three games remaining, the Australian side was keen to secure their place in the top two of Group B and keep their 2018 World Cup hopes alive.

A set piece from a corner opened the scoring in the 6th minute, to give the home side the 1-0 lead. A swinging corner met the head of midfielder Jackson Irvine to see a deflection off a UAE defender before findings it way into the back of the net.

An equaliser for the UAE came almost minutes later after a free kick was awarded to the side just outside the 18-yard box. A curling left footed strike by marquee player Omar Abdulrahman swung towards the top left hand corner before Australian goalkeeper Mat Ryan was forced to push it out at the last minute.

Shortly after both sides had settled into the match, the UAE applied the pressure as they pushed to grab the equaliser before half time. An over the top ball from Abdulrahman forced Socceroos goalkeeper Ryan to leave his box and shield the ball out from forward Ali Mabkhout. 

The second half began aggressively for both sides, with the Sydney audience not happy with Referee Al Kafs dismissal of striker James Troisis’ sandwiched take down just outside the box. With the heat and physical nature continuing well into the second half of the match, to highlight both sides desperation for 2018 qualification.

The Australian side began to show their frustration with positive play breaking down for the leading side as the contested decisions mounted against them. A needed lift in team moral came for the Socceroos after Tim Cahill was subbed on in the 70th minute.

Another corner saw Australia take a 2-0 lead in the 77th minute. After another perfect cross into the box from Troisi found the head of Mathew Leckie before it crossed the goal line.

The Socceroos now sit third in Group B after their 2-0 win, tied on 13 points with Saudi Arabia. With the UAE unlikely to qualify for Russia 2018, as they remain in fourth position on nine points.

Australia 2 (Irvine 6’, Leckie 77′)
United Arab Emirates 0

Stadium: Sydney Football Stadium
Crowd: 27,328

Referee: Ahmed Abu Bakar Al Kaf (Oman)
Assistant Referees: Hamed Sulaiman Al Mayahi (Oman) & Abu Bakar Al-Amri (Oman)
Fourth Official: Mahmood Salim Said Al Majarafi (Oman)

Australia: 1. RYAN Mathew (GK), 2. DEGENEK Milos, 3. SMITH Brad, 5. MILLIGAN Mark (Yellow Card 82′), 7. LECKIE Mathew, 8. WRIGHT Bailey (Yellow Card 84′), 9. JURIC Tom (4. CAHILL Tim 70′), 14. TROISI James, 15. JEDINAK Mile (C) (11. AMINI Mustafa 88′), 20. SAINSBURY Trent, 22. IRVINE Jackson (10. KRUSE Robbie 81′)
Substitutes: 6. WILLIAMS Rhys, 12. LANGERAK Mitchell (GK), 16. BEHICH Aziz, 17. MCGREE Riley Patrick, 18. VUKOVIC Daniel (GK), 19. BURNS Nathan, 21. LUONGO Massimo, 23. GRANT Rhyan Bert

United Arab Emirates: 1. KHASEIF Ali (GK) (C), 3. ABBAS Walid, 5. AHMED Tariq (16. ABDULRAHMAN Mohammed 38’, Yellow Card 83′), 6. GHAZY Mohanad Salem, 7. MABKHOUT Ali, 9. BARMAN Ahmed (Yellow Card 80′), 11. KHALIL Ahmed (13. ESMAEEL Khamis 55′), 14. SANQOUR Abdelaziz, 15. AL HAMMADI Ismail (Yellow Card 84′), 19. AHMED Ismail, 21. ABDULRAHMAN Omar
Substitutes: 2. SALEH Salem, 4. FARDAN Habib, 8. AL-KAMALI Hamdan, 10. MATAR Ismaeil, 12. EISA Khalid (GK), 17. JUMA Fares, 18. FAWZI Mohamed, 20. SAQER Hassan Ibrahim, 22. MASER Majed (GK), 23. KHAMIS Mahmoud

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