The All Whites’ 20-year wait to beat Australia’s Socceroos will have to wait another three days, at least, after a 1-0 loss at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.
A goal from Awer Mabil in the 33rd minute swung the game Australia’s way in the first of the two-match centenary series between the trans-Tasman rivals.
The game was even and despite the loss, New Zealand must go into their homecoming game at Auckland’s Eden Park with confidence they can level the series — and land their first win over the Socceroos since 2002.
New Zealand created the first real goalscoring chance of the game in the 9th minute when a long punt by goalkeeper Oli Sail was flicked on by captain Chris Wood, putting Andre de Jong through.
He got to the ball ahead of struggling defender Trent Sainsbury but poked the ball just wide of the net.
The Socceroos almost went ahead in the 16th minute when Jackson Irvine got to a corner first, shooting just wide of the net.
Midway through the half, both sides had chances.
Matt Garbett engineered a clever move that saw Liberato Cacace played into the box but his shot was deflected wide of the net for a corner.
At the other end, Australia had the ball in the net from a corner but referee Ryuji Sata ruled All Whites defender Nando Pijnaker had been fouled in the lead-up.
Australia went ahead in the 33rd minute when New Zealand midfielder Joe Bell lost possession to Irvine who fed the ball to Awer Mabil who shot hard and low from 30 metres, his effort skidding past the outstretched reach of Sail.
Three minutes later, Wood showed his class, expertly bringing down a long ball and almost getting a shot away. Instead, the ball was not cleared properly, allowing Garbett a stinging shot from long range that was taken by goalkeeper Matt Ryan.
In the 41st minute, Bell stabbed a shot on target that was easily collected by Ryan.
Half-time stats (Australia/New Zealand)
- Shots: 6 / 6
- Shots on target: 1 / 3
- Possession: 49% / 51%
- Passes: 232 / 249
- Pass accuracy: 82% / 81%
- Fouls: 6 / 7
- Offsides 1 / 0
- Corners 4 / 2
Michael Boxall picked up the first yellow card of the game for a robust tackle in the 61st minute.
As expected, both coaches rang the changes as the second half progressed, with both sides replacing six players.
The changes disrupted the rhythm of the second-half play, with fewer chances for either side.
The best opportunity of the half came late when Australia’s Mathew Leckie was set up by Jackson Irvine for an angled shot that Sail palmed onto the outside of the post.
By the final whistle, Arnold had been able to check out 17 of his 31-player squad, sizing them up for his final World Cup selection.
For New Zealand, youngsters Elijah Just and Garbett played with confidence and provide optimism for the next World Cup cycle.
Veteran Winston Reid was on the bench, an unused sub for the night. The warrior awaits his final performance at Eden Park on Sunday.
Main photo: Substitute Callum McCowatt fires a free kick over the Australian defensive wall.
READ MORE: ‘We need to be far more clinical in attacking third,’ says Hay >>>>
Full-time stats (Australia/New Zealand)
- Shots: 11 / 12
- Shots on target: 2 / 4
- Possession: 51% / 49%
- Passes: 451 / 455
- Pass accuracy: 82% / 82%
- Fouls: 15 / 16
- Offsides 2 / 1
- Corners 6 / 2
Matthew Ryan (c), Fran Karacic (Nathaniel Atkinson 68′), Trent Sainsbury, Milos Degenek, Aziz Behich (Joel King 83′), Aaron Mooy, Jackson Irvine (Connor Metcalfe 83′), Ajdin Hrustic (Riley McGree, 60′), Martin Boyle, Adam Taggart (Jamie MacLaren 60′), Awer Mabil (Mathew Leckie, 68′).
Subs not used: Thomas Deng, Andrew Redmayne, Mitchell Duke, Denis Genreau, Mitch Langerak, Garang Kuol, Cam Devlin, Marco Tilio, Harrison Delbridge.
Head coach: Graham Arnold.
Oli Sail, Michael Boxall, Tim Payne (Bill Tuiloma 86′), Nando Pijnaker, Liberato Cacace (Deklan Wynne 70′), Dane Ingham, Joe Bell (Marko Stamenic 64′), Matt Garbett, Andre de Jong (Cam Howieson 70′), Elijah Just (Ben Waine 64′), Chris Wood (c) (Callum McCowatt 70′).
Subs not used: Adam Paulsen, Michael Woud, Kyle Adams, Alex Greive, Ben Old, Winston Reid, Storm Roux.
Head coach: Danny Hay.
Ryuji Sato (Japan)
Game played on Thursday September 22, 2022
Australia 1 (Awer Mabil 33′)
New Zealand 0
Game to be played on Sunday September 25, 2022
New Zealand v Australia
Eden Park, Auckland, 4pm
Live on Sky Sport 1