LONDON (AFP) – Australia defeated Saudi Arabia 3-2 in a hard-fought friendly on Monday to secure their first victory in almost a year.
The Socceroos’ last win came against Costa Rica in November 2013, with three defeats at the World Cup adding to a disappointing run of six losses in seven games.
They got back on track at Fulham’s Craven Cottage after surging into a two-goal lead within the opening six minutes thanks to strikes from veteran Tim Cahill and Mile Jedinak.
Hassan Muath scored a second half penalty for the Saudis, but Bailey Wright restored Australia’s two-goal advantage before Tayseer Al Jassim netted late on to set up a tense finale.
Former Everton midfielder Cahill took just three minutes to open the scoring when he bundled home after the Saudi defence failed to clear.
That was the 36th goal of Cahill’s international career and Australia were soon celebrating again when captain Jedinak doubled their lead on six minutes, the Crystal Palace midfielder rising highest to head home from a free-kick.
Yasir Alshahrani came close to pulling a goal back just after the interval but could only turn Al Jassim’s deep cross over Mitch Langerak’s goal.
The second half had little fluidity as both sides introduced a number of players from the bench – with Jedinak and Cahill both replaced midway through the half.