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View Count: 36 |  Publish Date: March 26, 2013
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O, man! Draw a blow to Socceroos' World Cup bid
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Please Log in to update your video settings Socceroos draw 2-2 with Oman
The Socceroos came from two goals down to draw 2-2 with Oman in their World Cup qualifier. Autoplay OnOff Video feedback Video settings
. . . and the news gets worse as Jordon stuns Japan. Click here for match report
Hold on, Brazil - its far from a done deal. But it could have been a whole lot worse after Australia trailed by two goals just after half-time and it looked as though it could fall to its second defeat in the final stage of qualifying.
Will Australia make the World Cup? Vote here.
Cant bear to watch: Robert Cornthwaite towers over Amad Al-Hosni on Tuesday night. Photo: Reuters
While Tim Cahill equalised, blushes were only spared by an 85th minute screamer from Brett Holman, one that required a slight deflection to go beyond the palms of Ali Al-Habsi, who put in a superb display for the Omanis. Advertisement
But the scoreline probably flattered Australia. And with Jordon elbowing its way to second spot in Group B with a stunning win over Japan, the Socceroos are now facing the real prospect of missing the World Cup.
Though the Socceroos improved sharply in the second half - inspired by Cahills eternal threat from set pieces - the first half hovered somewhere between woeful and dreadful. They lacked structure, fluency and intent, sowing the seeds of an uninspiring display. Click for more photos Soccer
Tim Cahill before the game. Photo: Anthony Johnson View all 20 photos
Heres the pictures from Tuesday nights game.
The crowd was stunned at the beginning of both halves as Paul Le Guens side took an early lead and then doubled its advantage, which was thoroughly deserved.
Thankfully for the majority of the 34,603 on hand, the comeback wasnt too late.
Tim Cahill and Abdul Sallam Al Mukhaini compete. Photo: Anthony Johnson
With three matches to play, Australia still remains a strong chance of progressing.
Socceroos coach Holger Osieck made a bold decision to select Michael Thwaite and Robbie Cornthwaite in defence, while James Holland was also preferred to Mark Bresciano as Mile Jedinaks holding midfield partner, perhaps signifying a changing of the guard.
Australias plan was thrown into disarray after just six minutes when a clever pass from Amad Al-Hosni put Abdulaziz Al-Muqbali - who made his international debut when Oman last played in Sydney - into the clear. Coming off a hat-trick in last weeks friendly against Haiti, Al-Muqbali scooted past Thwaite with ease and despite the acute angle, he squeezed a shot between Mark Schwarzers legs.
Well known for its time-wasting, Oman defender Raed Saleh brought jeers from the crowd when he collapsed to the turf in the 12th minute and was then carried off - only to run back on to the field straight away, infuriating Osieck.
Suddenly, the hosts seemed flustered.
It wasnt a situation they expected, especially at home against such a lowly ranked opponent - and perhaps because the last time they played Oman at home it was so easy.
The energy levels soon lifted. Jedinak fired in a header that was off target, followed up by Hollands rasping effort from range that was deflected over. Still, it was far from convincing.
That the best chance of the first stanza came from the head of Holman, who finally drew a save from Al-Habsi after a set piece, said plenty.
Tactically, Australia was poor. It didnt think its way through the match. Le Guen was happy to let the Socceroos back four have the ball - but cramped the space left for the midfield.
Omans formation effectively changed to a 4-5-1 in defence as Al-Muqbali dropped to pressure both Holland and Jedinak, the latter of whom received an almighty critique from Osieck after a misplaced pass.
But Jedinaks night would go from bad to worse after the break. The Crystal Palace enforcer tried to clear an incoming cross from Raed Ibrahim but only succeeded in clipping the ball past Schwarzer to double the visitors advantage.
Australia had to respond.
The matter of urgency was noted and from a corner two minutes later, Cahill slammed a header beyond the reached of Al-Habsi from Luke Wilkshires corner.
A minute later, Holland was withdrawn and Mark Bresciano brought on as the Socceroos went for the jugular.
Australia now looked repeatedly for Cahill to make the difference. He met corner after corner, inducing some superb saves from Al-Habsi, making for a superb individual duel. Honours were ultimately even.
Time looked to be ticking away from the Socceroos but Holman had other ideas, lashing home a superb strike. One that keeps the Samba dream alive.
World Cup Qualification
AFC results and standings today
Group B Played on Tuesday
Jordan              2 (Baniateyah 45+1, Hayel 60) Japan               1 (Kagawa 69)
Australia           2 (Cahill 52, Holman 85) Oman                2 (Mubarak 6, Jedinak 49 og)
Group A Played on Tuesday
Uzbekistan          1 (Jeparov 63) Lebanon             0 
Korea Republic      2 (Lee K H 60, Son H M 90+6) Qatar               1 (Al Khalfan 63)
(Group winners and runners-up qualify for World Cup finals, third placed teams playoff to meet Oceania winner for World Cup berth)
Standings            P  W  D  L  F  A PtsGroup AUzbekistan           6  3  2  1  6  4 11Korea Republic       5  3  1  1 11  5 10Iran                 5  2  1  2  2  2  7Qatar                6  2  1  3  4  7  7Lebanon              6  1  1  4  2  7  4
Group BJapan                6  4  1  1 14  4 13Jordan               6  2  1  3  6 12  7Australia            5  1  3  1  6  6  6Oman                 6  1  3  2  6  9  6Iraq                 5  1  2  2  4  5  5

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Time: 23:20  |  News Code: 227608  |  Site: brisbanetimes
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