Australia draws with Croatia 2-2, advances to next round in Group F

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Australia drew with Croatia 2-2 in a drama-packed final Group F game in Stuttgart, Thursday.

The draw put Australia on four points and Croatia on two, allowing the Australian team, nicknamed "The Socceroos", to progress into the Fifa World Cup round of sixteen.

Gottlieb Daimler Stadion, Stuttgart

The action-packed match, which was witnessed by 52'000 at Gottlieb Daimler Stadion, had controversy throughout the game.

Croatian defender Stjepan Tomas handballed two Australian crosses within the Croatian penalty area; but only one penalty was given. This was inconsistent with matches such as the clash between Serbia and Montenegro against Côte d'Ivoire (The Ivory Coast), where Milan Dudic of Serbia and Montenegro committed two fouls against Côte d'Ivoire the previous day and both penalties were awarded on that occasion.

There was high tensions in the last moments of the match, as Croatia was desperate to get a winner while Australia did not want to concede. This is reflected by the fact that this game was only the fifth time in World Cup history (and the second time in the 2006 World Cup) where three players had been shown a red card in one match. The other times were 1938 - Brazil vs. Czechoslovakia, 1954 - Brazil vs. Hungary, 1998 - Denmark vs. South Africa, and 2006 - USA vs. Italy.

Three players were shown two yellow cards, but in the confusion of the last few minutes of the match, English referee Graham Poll had only sent two of those players off the field.

Dario Simic was first to go after fouling Harry Kewell, halting an Australian breakaway. Australian Brett Emerton walked when he committed a handball foul, preventing an attacking pass by Croatia.

Josip Simunic should have gone at the 90 minute mark when Poll flashed him a second yellow card for what may be described as a rugby tackle in a last ditch attempt to stop another Australian breakaway.

The referee failed to realise that he had booked Simunic 61 minutes into the game and allowed him to stay on until he was booked a third time after the end of injury time three minutes later. In the Fifa match report, the last booking was also officially recorded.

Poll later claimed to the Fifa referee committee when he booked Simunic for the second time he had marked down the number of Australian Craig Moore instead.

An earlier drama in a second half saw Croatia's go-ahead goal. Tim Cahill fail to challenge Niko Kovac until the edge of the Australian penalty area; this resulted in Kovac using the space for a low shot at Australian goalkeeper Zeljko Kalac. Kalac's egregious attempt at the save seemed almost like a dive out of the way when the ball hit a bad bounce in front of him, and rolled into the net.

The game started spectacularly with arguably the best freekick goal the tournament seen to this point, scored by Darijo Srna. Right footed, 30 yards out, he curled it over the wall and past the out-stretched right hand of Kalac into the top left corner of the Australian net.

On 37 minutes Poll penalised Tomas' handball and Craig Moore converted the penalty shot easily down the middle. Stipe Pletikosa gave plenty of space for Moore to shoot, having committed his dive a metre left while Moore was still having his run up.

Pletikosa later made two outstanding saves, a reaction stop from Kewell and then to grab a low cross amidst flying legs on his goal line.

Australia had more shots at goal and ball possession in the match, and their second equaliser came 11 minutes from time. Marco Bresciano's cross was flicked onward by John Aloisi, allowing Kewell to strike past Pletikosa near the far post.

Australia manager Guus Hiddink might think the match was a rather surreal affair, but the reality is he has progressed Australia into the round of sixteen for the first time at the World Cup finals. Italy, winners of Group E, will meet them in the round of sixteen.


Group F

June 22, 2006
  Croatia 2–2   Australia Gottlieb Daimler Stadion
Srna 2'
Kovač 57'
Moore 38' (pen)
Kewell 79'

Attendance: 52'000

Referee: Graham Poll (England)


  • 01 S Pletikosa 70'  
  • 07 D Simic 32'   85'   
  • 05 I Tudor 38'  
  • 13 S Tomas (Substituted: 84' I Klasnic)
  • 03 J Simunic 61'   90'   93'+   
  • 02 D Srna
  • 10 N Kovac
  • 08 M Babic
  • 19 N Kranjcar (Substituted: 65' J Leko)
  • 09 D Prso
  • 18 I Olic (Substituted: 73' L Modric)


  • 18 Z Kalac
  • 02 L Neill
  • 03 C Moore
  • 14 S Chipperfield (Substituted: 75' J Kennedy)
  • 07 B Emerton 81'   87'   
  • 13 V Grella (Substituted: 63' J Aloisi)
  • 05 J Culina
  • 04 T Cahill
  • 21 M Sterjovski (Substituted: 71' M Bresciano)
  • 10 H Kewell
  • 09 M Viduka


Team Pts Pld W D L GF GA GD
Brazil 9 3 3 0 0 7 1 +6
Australia 4 3 1 1 1 5 5 0
Croatia 2 3 0 2 1 2 3 −1
Japan 1 3 0 1 2 2 7 −5

Fifa World Cup Group F table June 22, 2006


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