The Socceroos suffered a heart-breaking injury time loss to Ecuador on Thursday, but coach Ange Postecoglou will have plenty of positives to take away from Australia’s 4-3 loss in London.
In a match that embodied the old sporting adage of “a game of two halves” the Socceroos skipped to a three goal lead at the break only to be overrun in the closing minutes of the match.
A penalty from newly named skipper Mile Jedinak and a brace from Tim Cahill, who became Australia’s all-time leading goal scorer in the process had given the Socceroos a deserved three goal advantage at half-time.
However after making a couple of substitutions for the second stanza, Ecuador looked a totally different side and more like the country that finished fourth in the South American qualifying for this year’s World Cup.
The total momentum shift was compounded by the Socceroos being reduced to 10-men when goalkeeper Mitch Langerak was sent –off for a rash challenge.
The world No.24 notched three goals to square the ledger and while it looked like the Socceroos would hold on for a deserved draw a late defensive error allowed Edison Mendez to claim an unlikely winner in stoppage time.
Despite the heart-breaking loss at The Den, coach Ange Postecoglou was upbeat in asserting his new generation of Socceroos would learn “some useful lessons” from the experience.
Part of this experience saw three Socceroos earn their maiden caps, with Curtis Good, Alex Wilkinson and Massimo Luongo all debuting for the national team.
The match was also the first time Mile Jedinak has worn the captain’s armband after he was handed the duty when Lucas Neill was omitted from the squad.
The one bright spot for the Aussies to take away from the match was the performance of Cahill, who returned to the stadium where his career really took off with Millwall. The 34-year-old surpassed the Damian Mori’s goal scoring record and became the first Socceroo to notch 30 goals for his country when he scored the game’s opener with a trademark header.
With the World Cup now less than four months away it is apparent a lot will rest on Cahill’s shoulders if Australia’s campaign in Brazil is to be a success.
The Socceroos now look ahead to their farewell game, which will be played against South Africa in Sydney on May 26, their final match before they head to Brazil.