DOHA (AFP) – Australia beat Peru in a sudden death penalty shootout on Monday to secure a place at the 2022 World Cup finals.
The playoff between the Asian and South American qualifiers had been goalless after 120 minutes and was only decided when Peru’s Alex Valera missed his side’s sixth penalty, giving Australia a 5-4 win at the Ahmad bin Ali stadium in Doha.
The winners, 42nd in the world rankings, claimed their sixth ticket to the World Cup finals and a Group D opening match against defending champions France on November 22.
It was the second time in the past two decades that Australia have beaten South American opponents in a World Cup shootout. They overcame Uruguay to reach the 2006 finals.
Peru, 22nd in FIFA’s list and who beat Australia 2-0 at the 2018 World Cup group stage, were roared on by 10,000 fans, most of whom had flown halfway round the globe for the playoff only to see a frustrating encounter between the rivals.
Australia coach Graham Arnold said he was “speechless” at the upset win after seeing Martin Boyle miss his side’s first penalty before successfully converting their next five spot-kicks.
Australia’s substitute goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne danced like a clown on the goal line in a bid to upset the Peru players and Luis Advincula’s shot cannoned off a post while Valera’s miss set off wild celebrations among the Socceroos and their band of a few hundred supporters.
Arnold said the move to bring on Redmayne after 119 minutes had been intended to unsettle Peru’s penalty takes, adding that it probably contributed to the penalty misses.
“What we have been through in the last year and a half, not being able to get back into Australia (because of the pandemic), players getting COVID-19. I could not be more proud,” said Arnold.
“The sacrifices they have made. No-one thought they could do it but they kept on believing.”
Peru’s Argentine coach Ricardo Gareca said the whole side felt “enormous disappointment” to go out after a game in which clear cut chances were few and far between.
“It hurts not to make it as we were doing well in the game,” added Gareca. Gareca made no criticism of Redmayne’s goalkeeping antics. “If what he did is legal then I have nothing to say.”
Redmayne, who is known for the same penalty routine at Sydney FC, said the win had been “surreal” but he did not consider himself the hero of the night.
“I played a very small part in what was done,” he said.