The Australians needed 12 seconds and 3 passes in the 60th minute. They must win the ball in their own penalty area and score on the other side of the field. Leckie, Australia’s most experienced player after goalkeeper Matthew Ryan, twice sent defender Joachim Mahle running wide and fired the ball low into the far corner of the goal.
The goal came at a crucial time. Shortly before that, Tunisia had taken the lead against France in a parallel game and took second place from the Australians in the virtual table. Because of the starting position, coach Graham Arnold’s side had focused on defense until then – with the assumption that it would be enough to progress.
Big win for Australia
Surprisingly little came from Denmark, who had a strong European Championship showing a year ago and only lost to hosts England in the semi-finals. Even after falling behind, there was still nothing to be seen from the Danes. They looked tired and unimaginative, with crosses into the opposition penalty area regularly cleared by the Australians, who were strong in the air.
In the 71st minute, Algerian referee Mustafa Korbel pointed to the penalty spot for a moment of shock for Australia. However, the Danish player was offside prior to the foul, meaning the decision was reversed or overturned.
Australia has appeared in every final since reaching the round of 16 in 2006, but has never progressed beyond the group stage. Four years ago in Russia, when they were in a group with France and Denmark, the team finished last with one point (a win against Denmark). A victory that only the biggest hopefuls believed in after a clear 1:4 opening defeat against France should be judged accordingly.
France played their second spell against Tunisia, putting up a poor performance and deservedly losing 1-0. Had Australia only drawn, Tunisia would have conceded just one goal in their three group games. Now the Tunisians were expelled along with Denmark.
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