The first Socceroos match in Melbourne in over four years saw a Tom Rogic masterclass as they defeated Vietnam 4-0 on a humid yet rainy Thursday night at AAMI Park.
After 19 seconds following kick off, Tom Rogic looked to have slotted in the opener yet it was ruled as an offside with interference from Jackson Irvine, by virtue of VAR.
Melbourne City’s Matthew Leckie proved influential in the opening 20 minutes with a shot on target and a header just wide of the goal as the Socceroos waited with bated breath for an opener.
The floodgates would open in the 30th minute as a busy Tom Rogic found the head of Jamie Maclaren following beautiful work between the Vietnamese defensive line. Another well timed run gave Leckie the flexibility to thread it through to the aforementioned Rogic who tucked it home in the bottom right corner to secure the second as the half drew to a close.
As play resumed, the defence of the Socceroos afforded Vietnam with an abundance of space as Pham Tuan Hai came agonisingly close to spurring on a Vietnamese comeback as the ball whistled past Mat Ryan’s post in the 52nd minute.
Within transitional phases of play, the Socceroos struggled at times to keep up with the pace of the Vietnamese attack with last ditch tackles from towering centre-half Milos Degenek needed in many instances.
These gaps in defence led to a stunning segment of play by Vietnam closed with a ferocious strike at goal from Nguyen Cong Phuong which forced Mat Ryan to make an unbelievable save to maintain his clean sheet.
South Australians Craig Goodwin and Riley McGree sealed the tie as a Mat Ryan clearance led Goodwin to chip it over the line while McGree shot from just outside the box to make it four.
ROGIC CONTINUES SCINTILLATING FORM
From Glasgow to Melbourne, from the coaching of Ange Postecoglou to Graham Arnold, Tom Rogic returned to international action after missing last November’s window. Deployed as an attacking midfielder, the man from Canberra scored from within the box to provide the Socceroos the opener however later ruled for offside.
This however didn’t remotely define his performance. A beautifully weighted ball found the head of Jamie Maclaren in the 31st minute, granting Rogic an assist and later grabbing a goal by virtue of tremendous game awareness.
It typifies what has been a season of a career resurgence as he was linked to moves in the Middle East as recent as last season and was seemingly frozen out of Celtic’s setup.
In 2022 he is arguably Australia’s most important player.
ATMOSPHERE STEALS THE SHOW
Despite lingering effects of the pandemic, Melburnians came out in force for this tie with the Vietnamese supporters packing out the western stand and demonstrating their tremendous passion for their nation.
Three A-League Men sides are presently based in Melbourne with all sets of fans uniting as one, coming out in thousands amidst the backdrop of the Australian Open being held across the road.
With atmosphere outlined as a key pillar of returning domestic football to the mainstream, the performance from the supporters was commendable in every sense of the word with both sets of supporters energised for the entire fixture.
27,740 was the attendance, and they certainly made a noise.
ALL EYES ON OMAN
The first job has been completed, yet the true test arrives on early Wednesday morning when the Socceroos travel to Muscat for the all important away clash against Oman. Pending other results, it could place Graham Arnold’s men in prime position to secure qualification in Sydney against the might of Japan in March.
Results in Oman haven’t been easy to come by in recent qualification campaigns with rotation perhaps a necessity should Australia look replenished and energised in notoriously difficult conditions in the Middle East.
FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Round 4: AAMI Park
Australia 4 (Maclaren 30m, Rogic 45+2m, Goodwin 72m, McGree 76m)
HOW DID THE MANAGERS REACT?
Image Source: Football Australia