A stunning solo goal from Mathew Leckie has sunk Denmark 1-0 and sent Australia into the World Cup knockout stage for just the second time.
And now after the historic win, Australians are demanding a public holiday, with one fan even holding up a sign at Qatar’s Al Janoub Stadium, that simply stated ‘give us a public holiday’ after the historic win.
Fans erupted after the Soceroos win at Qatar’s Al Janoub Stadium, with one holding up a sign saying: ‘Give us a public holiday’
The Socceroos coach’s immediate reaction when the full time whistle was blown in Qatar
The demand for a public holiday is also growing on Twitter, with some fans calling on Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to give Aussies a public holiday on Monday, following the clash against Argentina.
‘Good morning Mr. Prime Minister, surely the nation deserves a national public holiday tomorrow. We want to support the Socceroos without worrying about work. Follow in the footsteps of Mr. Hawke and give Australians what they deserve. #AUSvDEN #FIFAWorldCup’ another posted.
The call comes after Saudi Arabia’s King Salman gave his citizen’s a day off after the team’s 2-1 upset over Lionel Messi’s Argentina last month.
Australia will face Argentina and its megastar Lionel Messi in a knockout clash on Saturday night (Sunday 0600 AEDT) in Qatar.
Leckie’s superb left-footed strike ensures the Socceroos follow the feats of the so-called golden generation in 2006 in reaching the round of 16.
‘It’s the first time ever an Australian team has won two games of the World Cup in a row,’ coach Graham Arnold said.
‘Maybe we’re talking about a new golden generation now because we have been listening and hearing about the golden generation of 2006 who got four points – and now we have got six.’
Leckie, arguably Australia’s best World Cup performer over his three tournaments, entered football folklore with the match-winner at Al Janoub Stadium.
The stalwart, played into space by Riley McGree, broke an hour-long deadlock with his own Danish slice – he ran, teased and then turned his marker after gathering 30 metres from goal.
Mathew Leckie was the hero as Australia beat Denmark 1-0 to qualify for the knockout stages
Leckie’s wonderfully taken solo goal was the difference as the Socceroos punched their ticket to the Round of 16 of the World Cup for only the second time in their history
First to his right, then onto his left, Leckie twisted and turned and fired a low left-footer to spark jubilation.
‘He had no right to score … he had no right to put it in the back of the net,’ teammate Jamie Maclaren said.
‘But when you have got the pace and the experience and the nous that Lecks has … it was immense.’
Leckie knew he was bound for glory as soon as he connected.
‘As the ball was rolling in, I saw it going in, I was so excited and so happy,’ he said.
His timing was perfect in more ways than one.
In the simultaneous game in Australia’s group, outsiders Tunisia had scored just three minutes earlier against holders France, who rested almost their entire first-choice side.
The Tunisian goal – they would ultimately win 1-0 – momentarily lifted them to second in the group behind the French only for Leckie to restore the Socceroos into that prized slot.
Defender Milos Degenek was informed by sideline staff of the Tunisia score and, while the Australians celebrated Leckie’s rapid retort, told his teammates.
They did not believe him.
‘The boys thought it was my psyching them up so we won’t lose,’ Degenek said.
‘But it was actually me being serious.’
Leckie and his captain Mat Ryan, barring injury, will break the Australian record for most cup games in the knockout encounter.
Leckie’s match-winner sparked wild celebrations back home in Melbourne’s Federation Square
Socceroos fans back home set their alarm clocks for 2am to watch the big match
Against the Danes, the duo both made their ninth cup appearance, equalling Tim Cahill and Mark Bresciano’s record.
‘We’re an ambitious group,’ Ryan said.
‘While everyone is enjoying the victory post-match out on the pitch but the comments are already coming out – we’re not done yet.
‘We want to keep going, we want to make this chapter as special as can be.
‘We have got that belief … we’re riding a wave.’
Goalkeeper Ryan was called into action early as the Socceroos, lacking early spark, were forced to repel a series of first-half attacks from the Danes, ranked 10th in the world, some 28 slots higher than Australia.
Socceroos fans celebrated wildly in the stands at Al Janoub Stadium after Leckie’s goal
Aaron Mooy (left) and Mat Ryan (right) celebrated a historic night for Australian football
But the tide turned in the second half after an Arnold revving.
The Socceroos were instantly aware of the wider ramifications for their sport in Australia, hoping they inspired yet another generation – just as the 2006 version did for them.
‘Hopefully it’s making other kids fall in love with it,’ influential midfielder Aaron Mooy said.
‘That’s what the Socceroos have always done, inspire the next generation.
‘And all the kids back home will be watching and see that we won and probably say ‘I want to be a footballer’.’
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER RATINGS
Australia (4-4-2): Ryan 8, Degenek 7, Souttar 7, Rowles 7, Behich 7; Leckie 7.5 (Hrustic 89), Irvine 7.5, Mooy 6, Goodwin 6 (Baccus 46, 6.5); Duke 6 (Maclaren 83,), McKree 6.5 (Wright 74, 6)
Coach: Graham Arnold
Subs: Atkinson, Karacic, Tilio, Mabil, Redmayne, Devlin, Vukovic, Deng, Kuol, King, Cummings
Goals: Leckie 60
Booked: Behich, Degenek
Denmark (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel 5.5; Kristensen 5.5 (Bah 46, 5.5), Andersen 5.5, Christensen 5.5, Maehle 5 (Cornelius 70, 5); Hojbjerg 6, Jensen 5 (Damsgaard 58, 5.5); Skov Olsen 5 (Skov 70, 5), Eriksen 6, Lindstom 5; Braithwaite 5.5 (Dolberg 58, 6)
Coach: Kasper Hjulmand
Subs: Nelsson, Kjaer, Norgaard, Oliver Christensen, Stryger Larsen, Wass, Wind, Poulsen, Ronnow