After two years on the road, the Socceroos played out a 0-0 draw with Saudi Arabia in front of 23,314 fans at Western Sydney Stadium.
The Socceroos' first match on home soil since October 2019 produced a tight affair between two sides who were desperate to hold their positions at the top of Group B.
While there was a flurry of late chances for both sides, the deadlock was unable to be broken in wet conditions in Parramatta.
It was a frenetic start to the match with the Socceroos pressing high and dominating possession in the Saudi half.
Despite Australia’s positive start, it was the Green Falcons who had the first real opportunity to open the scoring within 13 minutes. Saudi Arabia broke down the Socceroos left through Salem Al-Dawsari, who found Salman Al-Faraj unmarked in the box, but Harry Souttar was on hand to slide across and block the shot.
Following that opportunity, the Socceroos were largely comfortable in possession as they looked to break down a resolute Saudi defense.
With minutes remaining in the first half, Boyle found himself free at the back post as he threw himself towards Mathew Leckie’s cross from the left, but it proved to be too far out of his reach and the half-chance fizzled out.
Australia enjoyed the better of the possession in the opening half, but they failed to really test Mohammed Al-Yami in Saudi Arabia’s goal.
The Socceroos started the second half much like they started the first. Within minutes of the restart, Souttar found Boyle on the right, who took advantage of a slip from the Saudi fullback and drove towards the byline to fire in a cross that deflected towards goal.
While the deflected cross did not trouble the Saudi goal, minutes later, Awer Mabil registered the first shot of the match with a tame near-post effort from the edge of the box.
On the hour mark, two quick-fire chances for the Socceroos went begging. After using his strength to see off the defender, Leckie found himself with time to have a free shot on goal from the left, but Al-Yami was able to palm it away.
Just moments later, Jackson Irvine found himself unmarked on the penalty spot after Mabil squared the ball from the left, but he could not get clean contact as he fired wide.
Pressure really began to mount for the Saudis as Australia smelt blood. After pawing away Mabil's long-range free-kick, Al-Yami sprung to his feet and blocked a goal-bound shot from Boyle.
10 minutes later, Saudi Arabia went down the other end through Al-Faraj. The Green Falcons number 7 burst into the penalty area after beating Trent Sainsbury to the ball, but Mat Ryan was up to the task.
Saudi Arabia looked to have turned the screw as they had another two opportunities within quick succession. The best of which came from Saleh Al-Shehri as his glancing header narrowly brushed past Ryan’s far post.
The Saudis ramped up their late game pressure and again, forced another fantastic save from Ryan. This time it was Al-Dawsari, who forced an impressive, one-handed save from Australia’s number 1.
Despite an onslaught of late chances, the match finished all square as both sides held their positions at the top of Group B.
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