Australia edge past Tunisia to clinch first World Cup win and boost Group D chances

Australia had only to avoid defeat to stay in the World Cup. The Socceroos did more than that in a 1-0 win over Tunisia on Saturday.

Mitchell Duke gave Australia the lead midway through the first half with a header and Australia then recorded their first victory in football’s biggest event since beating Serbia in 2010.

The result means Australia still have a chance of progressing to the knockout stages, despite losing 4-1 to defending champions France in their opener.

France and Australia lead Group D with three points each, while Denmark and Tunisia have one point each.

France played Denmark later.

On Wednesday, in the last round of group matches, Tunisia will face France and Australia will meet Denmark.

After a scrappy start for both sides, Australia went ahead with a play behind their goalkeeper’s back. Duke picked up the goalkeeper’s pass near midfield and made a quick throw-in to place Craig Goodwin on the left flank and Duke then sprinted forward to nod Goodwin’s deflected cross into the far corner .

Duke celebrated by making a « J » with his fingers in tribute to his son, Jaxson, who was in the stands.

The goal calmed the large contingent of red-clad Tunisian fans among the crowd of 41,823 inside Al Janoub Stadium and sent the small pockets of yellow-clad Australian fans into delirium.

Tunisia impressed when they held European Championship semi-finalists Denmark to a 0-0 draw in their opener, but only occasionally threatened against Australia until the Australians rest and defend towards the end.

Australia had also taken a 1-0 lead over France in their opener but were then overpowered by a loss they blamed on a series of defensive errors.

There were fewer errors this time, and a few timely interventions too – none greater than a slippery last-gasp clearance from centre-back Harry Souttar to block Mohamed Dräger’s dangerous shot shortly before half-time.

Tunisia are still looking to qualify for the first time from the group stage in their sixth World Cup appearance, but must now beat France.

During the second half, Tunisian fans waved a large Palestinian flag with the words « Free Palestine » printed on it.

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