A first half goal from Cadiz winger Awer Mabil was enough to give Australia a 1-0 win over New Zealand in a World Cup warm-up match in Brisbane yesterday.
The match was the first leg of a two-game series to celebrate 100 years since Australia played their first international, a 3-1 loss to New Zealand in 1922.
The second game will be played in Auckland on Sunday.
It was also the last match on Australian soil before the Socceroos head to Qatar for the World Cup, where they will open their campaign against France on November 22.
Australia will take some concerns to Qatar, after struggling to put away a side ranked well below them and who failed to qualify for the World Cup.
“I’m far from satisfied with that to be honest,” Australian midfielder Jackson Irvine said.
“There’s a lot of things we could have done better. We managed to get a win, but there are a lot of aspects of the game that we can do better.
“But at the end of the day, a win’s a win and it’s a landmark day for the national team.”
The All Whites shaded the Australians in both possession and completed passes, and had more shots on target than the Socceroos.
Their lack of a cutting edge up front proved the difference – while Australia had 12 shots on goal, only three of those were on target. One of them was Mabil’s 35th minute strike.
New Zealand frustrated the Socceroos with their high-pressing game and should have gone ahead early when Andre De Jong shot wide after being one-on-one with goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.
The visitors dominated early, with numerous chances, but Australia weathered the storm and began to come back into the game.
Irvine had a golden chance to put the Socceroos ahead after 17 minutes, but shot wide as the Australians continued to be frustrated by a tenacious New Zealand side.
But the All Whites were made to pay for their early misses when on 35 minutes, Mabil got the ball in space, cut back infield and from outside the box fired a powerful shot past New Zealand keeper Oli Sail.
The All Whites probably had the better of the second half with Elijah Just and Liberato Cacace particularly impressive, but the Socceroos were able to hold on for the win.
New Zealand captain Chris Wood said his side missed a golden chance to beat their Trans-Tasman rivals.
“I’m very disappointed – it was one of those games when we could have done a lot better,” a downcast Wood said.
“We just have to work on it and be ready for Sunday.”
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