Outsiders Australia qualified for the round of 16 of a World Cup for the first time since 2006 in a “final” against Denmark.
The "Socceroos§ defeated last year's European Championship semi-finalists 1-0 (0-0) and, after an exciting long-distance duel with Tunisia, are now in the knockout round as group runners-up against the winners of group C with Argentina and Poland.
Matthew Leckie became a hero for the Australians, the former Bundesliga pro scored the truly golden goal in the 60th minute: just a few moments earlier the video screen showed that Tunisia had scored a goal in the parallel game to move into second place behind France had pushed: The Australians were also eliminated for three minutes.
After the clear defeat (1:4) against defending champions France, they had opened the door to the round of 16 with a win against Tunisia (1:0).
"We want to make our dream come true," said Jackson Irvine from the second division club FC St. Pauli afterwards, "when I come home I want to see all the happy faces".
And they will be happy now.
The last time Australia was in the round of 16 was 16 years ago in Germany, where it was over against eventual world champions Italy: In the fifth minute of injury time, Francesco Totti converted an extremely controversial penalty kick to make it 1-0.
Unsurprisingly, the Australians went on the defensive early on Wednesday.
Denmark, who after the drama about Christian Eriksen only made it into the last group game and finally into the semi-finals, put pressure on – but revealed, as is so often the case, a major weakness in the final despite the optical superiority.
The Australians, who only qualified for the World Cup at the last minute, mostly let the Danes come and relied on quick counterattacks.
However, once they had the ball, they quickly lost it again.
After half an hour the game flattened out and rippled along for a long time.
Movement only came into play when the Tunisians scored 1-0 against France: both teams now had to win.
Of course, the Australians only needed a few seconds to process the bad news from the video board.
And they were lucky that referee Mustapha Ghorbal (Algeria) had to withdraw a penalty for offside (71').