The full-time whistle has blown and Australia has sent a shockwave around the football world by beating Argentina 2-0. A group dubbed “the group of death” by the media was spun as the “group of dreams” by Australia coach Graham Arnold and it has certainly began the way labelled it. A first half goal by Lachlan Wales and a stunning long-range strike by substitute Marco Tilio late in the second half sealed the historic victory that puts the Olyroos top of their group, ahead of Spain, Egypt and Argentina.
This referee could not be more trigger happy. Caleb Watts receives a yellow card despite getting the ball first. I could be losing count but I think he’s now the seventh Australian in the book tonight which puts the Olyroos on a suspension tight walk for the rest of the Games.
However, that’s tomorrow’s problem. The full-time whistle is minutes away and Australia is about to secure a shock win over Argentina.
That stunning strike from Marco Tilio has taken the wind out of Argentina. Their hopes of a comeback look dashed and they know it. The task for Australia now is to keep hold of a clean sheet that keeps Argentina’s frustrations high.
More importantly, they need to avoid conceding more yellow cards. Five on the field are now on cautions after Harry Souttar received a booking and a second for any in another match will result in a one-game suspension.
I should have waited about 30 seconds before making that last post because Marco Tilio has perhaps sealed an incredible win for Australia over Argentina with just his second touch of the ball! The boy from Belfield has outdone those from Buenos Aires with a scintillating shot from distance. A swerving, powerful shot curls into the far pocket of the net to make it 2-0 and put Australia on the cusp of an historic triumph.
Australia are starting to make the changes. Caleb Watts had replaced Lachlan Wales minutes earlier while Melbourne City’s grand final hero, Marco Tilio makes his entrance into the Olympics in place of Daniel Arzani. Nick D’Agostino comes on for Riley McGree.
Dear oh dear, Australia have missed a brilliant chance to seal their win. A superb build-up play made their numerical advantage count as Riley McGree was played into the box. He had space to shoot with only the goalkeeper to beat, as well as Lachlan Wales in tow and unmarked at the far post. McGree opted for the pass but struck it poorly, killing the chance before it could even eventuate into a shot.
McGree sought to make amends moments later, shooting from close to half-way to catch out Argentina goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma but fails to hit the target.
The fiery Argentinian defender, Facundo Medina, is lucky to still be on the park. A two-footed challenge on Lachlan Wales was lucky to have only been met with a yellow card and even more fortunate not to have inflicted injury on the Australian winger. Medina just tucked his studs out of the way to avoid a more severe and sinister contact but it was a moment that could have reduced his country to nine players on the field.
Graham Arnold really needs to make some changes soon. Argentina are starting to control this match and possess the skill and intelligence to target those five Australians on a yellow card, hoping to draw fouls and balance the field. Those Olyroos on a caution are becoming hesitant to make challenges and are allowing more space for the Argentinians to roam forward. Still, Australia’s defensive line remains firm but as the game goes on, it looks increasingly under threat. 62nd min: Australia 1-0 Argentina.
Argentina is settling into their game after that frantic opening to the second half and, despite being a man down, are looking more in control of the ball. They’re moving the ball with composure and class but are struggling to break through the Australian backline with just ten men.
The Australians are getting frustrated and yet another enters the book. A late challenge from Denis Genreau sees him receive a yellow card, the fifth on a caution now. Coach Graham Arnold must surely be looking for a change.
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