Socceroos player ratings from World Cup qualifier
THE Socceroos kept pace at the top of their World Cup qualifying group with a tense 3-2 win over Saudi Arabia. Here's who starred and who stuttered as a tactical change by Ange Postecoglou at halftime delivered big time.
MAT RYAN 6
Ryan has been the subject of speculation over a Premier League move to Brighton in the transfer window. He could do nothing about the goals but, like most of his teammates, looked edgy early. Had little action beyond the two strikes as Australia improved in the second half.
MILOS DEGENEK 5
Summed up Australia's dreadful first half when he trod on the ball. The back three was a first-half disaster zone, and he was all at sea like his colleagues. Less threatened in the second term.
TRENT SAINSBURY 7
Playing the middle of the back three, Sainsbury was off his best. He was easily bypassed for the first goal and lacked his usual composure. He had one huge moment in the 83rd minute, sliding in to dispossess a runaway attacker set for a one on one.
RYAN MCGOWAN 4
Had a rough night. Was easily beaten several times down the Saudi's left, including losing his man for the visitors' second goal in injury time, getting caught square as the ball floated over his head.
MILE JEDINAK 5
The skipper has divided fans in recent Socceroos outings. He was solid without being spectacular.
AARON MOOY 6
Came in after the highs of Premier league qualification with Huddersfield and the Socceroos needed him to shine. With the ball he created a few openings but, along with Jedinak, was too accommodating to the Saudi runners through midfield. He was transformed after the halftime break, getting on the ball and asking questions of the Saudi backline.
TOM ROGIC 7
The Celtic playmaker started with a bang, a sumptuous lope down the right flank promising a performance he didn't subsequently deliver on in the first half. He was much more dominant in the second and his goal, for a 3-2 lead, was typical of some of the long-range beauties he's scored in Scottish football.
JACKSON IRVINE 5
Irvine kept Mass Luongo out of the starting line up but lacked composure and touch in midfield, letting the ball escape him too easily. Replaced after 63 minutes by Robbie Kruse.
MATHEW LECKIE 6
Was having a torrid time in the first half, with poor touch and a loose pass presenting a gift to the Saudis that they somehow squandered. Made amends with a great run and pinpoint delivery for Juric's second goal. Was felled in the box in the second half but inexplicably not given a penalty.
BRAD SMITH 4
Had a quiet first half and was replaced, after tweaking his hamstring, by Aziz Behich at halftime.
TOMI JURIC 8
Grabbed his first Socceroos brace. The first was highly fortunate as he shot into an empty net after a goalkeeper howler. The second was a superbly executed header in the box after the Saudis' defence gave him all the time and space he needed to pick his spot. Very nearly landed a hat-trick, spooning one over from seven yards in the dying stages.
AZIZ BEHICH 8
Came on at halftime and had a great impact down the left flank. Set one up for Juric at the end that the striker should have tucked away. "Brad was unlucky to go off but Aziz gave us a real lift," explained skipper Mile Jedinak. "It made everyone else lift when he came on ... he got in behind a few times and forced them back. The subs were vital for us. Full credit to the guys who made an impact."
ROBBIE KRUSE 6
Playing more centrally than usual, having replaced Jackson Irvine, Kruse was more effective than recent breathless performances on the Socceroos flanks. A lovely turn near the end set up a delightful cross that Behich just couldn't reach.
MASS LUONGO 5
Had little time to make an impact.