The 2017 Confederations Cup is over for Australia with the winless Socceroos bungled out after drawing with Chile. Max Grieve has the full story for those who can bare it.

What Happened

Australia almost beat Chile this morning, which is another way of saying that Australia drew 1-1 with Chile this morning and are out of the Confederations Cup.

Ange Postecoglou made an unprecedented six changes to his starting eleven, dropping Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic to the bench and recalling Tim Cahill for his 100th cap as Australian nearly pulled off a famous win over the 2015 and 2016 Copa América champions. James Troisi put the Socceroos ahead just before the break before Martín Rodríguez levelled for Chile midway through the second half; the draw not enough for the Socceroos who can leave Russia satisfied with a respectable showing.

Australia approached the match with a physicality that unsettled their opposition, but it was difficult to deny the swirling Chilean attack once Alexis Sanchéz and Eduardo Vargas had begun to warm up. Matt Ryan was forced into a series of saves before Ryan McGowan blocked a shot from Vargas, and a Chilean goal seemed inevitable.

Yet the Socceroos were the ones with something to hold onto a halftime, when a surging counter attack saw Robbie Kruse’s deflected shot fall for a lone James Troisi on the left of the six-yard box, who lifted the ball over Claudio Bravo to give Australia a surprising lead, though not one which was wholly undeserved.

An unusually subdued Chilean side didn’t look to hit back immediately after going behind – rather, it was Australia who appeared the more likely to score the game’s next goal.

There was, though, a lingering sense of vulnerability about the Socceroos’ backline and a poor jump from Aziz Behich allowed Vargas to flick a header onto Rodríguez, who stuck a simple shot under Matt Ryan to equalise at 1-1.

Australia might have gone on to win the game, but then they might have gone on to lose, too. Jamie Maclaren should have scored when he was played in by a clever Troisi chip but could only stab his shot wide, while up the other end Vargas watched his header slide just beyond the post after Sanchez had drawn Ryan out of goal.

Ange swore on the sideline as another chance went begging, the final whistle blew, and the Earth kept rotating after a valiant but ultimately fruitless performance for the Socceroos.

Talking Points

The video assistant referee made its now-customary appearance during the first half, when a review was called for a full minute after Mark Milligan had pulled off an extraordinary last-ditch tackle on Alexis Sanchez bearing down on goal. Even if Milligan had taken the man rather than the ball, a penalty would have been a farcical decision at that point. FIFA should seriously review the rules regarding video technology before the World Cup: too often, confusion over how and when it should be used has undermined its authority – not the human referee’s.

Goal of the day

James Troisi should have slammed the ball very hard along the ground when it rolled tohim a few minutes before half time, but he didn’t. It would have been difficult to blame him for doing so, even if the goalkeeper had saved his shot, but instead he lifted a delicate chip (as if there is any other kind) over the onrushing, bearded and relatively competent Claudio Bravo to give Australia a stunning lead. Admittedly, it was only the best goal because a better one wasn’t scored, but this game wasn’t so much defined by its goals as it was by the contest over 90 minutes, provided in part by one of the better Australian performances of the last decade.

Standout performances

James Troisi played with a level of enthusiasm and effort that the Socceroos jersey should demand, and arguably threatens the Mooy-Rogic-Luongo triumvirate that previously has appeared as a fixture of the Australian midfield. Tim Cahill was tireless in his 100th appearance for his country, and Robbie Kruse showed flashes of his best attacking form before fading in the second half.

Ryan McGowan, Trent Sainsbury stood strong at the heart of the Australian defence, in front of Matt Ryan who made several impressive saves to keep the Chileans at bay for over an hour. Massimo Luongo and Jackson Irvine were immense in the midfield, Mark Milligan saved a goal with his first half tackle on Sanchéz and Aziz Behich was better than I have previously given him credit for. Tomi Juric was tall – taller than anyone else on the field except for Ryan McGowan, which must count for something.

It was difficult to pick one standout performance.

What it means

Australia will return to Russia around this time next year and lose to Spain and Uruguay before scraping a win against, I dunno, some mid-tier European team like Denmark. The 2017 Confederations Cup has come and gone for the Socceroos and our World Cup destiny seems obvious (provided we manage to qualify): we need to make more of the chances that come our way, or plucky defeat awaits in 2018. It’s hardly the legacy Ange would want to leave.

Chile, meanwhile, look forward to a semi-final against Portugal, which should be worth watching.

 

 

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