Australia vs. Iraq: Final score 1-0, Socceroos secure World Cup berth

Cameron Spencer

Although they made it exceptionally difficult for themselves, Australia have become the third team to qualify for the 2014 World Cup thanks to a 1-0 win against Iraq. Second in their AFC group behind Japan, the Socceroos needed a victory to ensure that Oman didn't overtake them on the final day, and thanks to an 83rd minute goal from substitute Josh Kennedy, they got it.

The win always looked likely, even if the hosts played with all of the vigour and resolve of Harry Redknapp's Queens Park Rangers. Iraq don't have the quality to compete with a team of Australia's calibre, especially away from home, and although they did well in holding out for as long as possible it was a matter of when, not if, the Socceroos would finally go ahead. Unless you were an Australia fan, in which case the match must have felt like torture.

Anyway, the breakthrough didn't arrive -- nor did it come particularly close to arriving -- until very late. Tim Cahill, who'd wasted a few chances, was hauled off (sulking) for Kennedy, and six minutes later the Nagoya Grampus man met Marco Bresciano's cross from the centre of the penalty area, steering a header past Noor Sabri to give the Aussies a vital lead. They held on despite some late signs of defensive frailty, securing their place in next summer's party alongside Brazil and Japan.

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