Australia clinched a crucial 3-2 victory in the Group B qualifying match against the mighty Saudi Arabia, thanks to a thunderous strike from Tom Rogic.
The Celtic midfielder reprised his match winning antics from last month’s Scottish Cup final win for Celtic FC by scoring the winning goal at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday.
The Socceroos thus join Japan and Saudi Arabia at the top of the Group B table joint on points with 16, (although Japan have a game in hand over the other two ). They next travel to Saitama to play in a crucial encounter on 31st August against the Samurai Blues.
The Aussies took the lead twice through FC Luzern striker Tomi Juric in the first half only for the Saudis to level out before half time through goals from Salem Al-Dawsari and Mohammad Al-Sahlawi.
The first goal came with only seven minutes on the clock when Saudi goalkeeper Yasser Al-Mosailem slipped in trying to kick out the ball, which reached straight to Juric who finished before an empty net.
At the start of the second half, Australia coach Ange Postecoglou brought on Aziz Behich for left-back Brad Smith which led to the control of the game shifting to his side.
Rogic produced his magic by scoring the match winner in the 64th minute.
“We made it a little difficult for ourselves in the first half but we showed our quality and limited their chances in the second half and went on for the win,” Rogic said after the match.
“I thought the goal was coming. We started to get on top in the second half and I just wanted to get the boys on the right way and to get the win which was the most important thing,” he added.
Earlier the hosts had a big shout for a penalty when Salman Al Faraj appeared to take out Leckie in the goal area; but it was waved away by the referee.
The top two teams from both the groups will progress to Russia 2018 with the third-placed nations battling it out via two play-off matches ( inter group and inter continental).
In the Group B, all the three teams have a genuine chance of qualifying directly from the group. While Japan are looking for their sixth consecutive World Cup berth, the Aussies will look to do four in a row. Once the top team of Asia, the Saudis will look to end their 12 year absence from the World Cup. Japan and Saudi Arabia face off on the last match day.