The Olyroos have stunned the football world with a defeat of Argentina in the Men’s Football at the Tokyo Olympics. For all your Olympic coverage stay tuned to The Inner Sanctum’s Olympic Hub and The Olympics Central
In a group that also contains Spain and Egypt, a good start was essential and Australia finished the night on top of the group with the only win of the day.
Graham Arnold trusted former prodigy Daniel Arzani on the wing to give Australia some creativity and pace. He looked dangerous early as he took possession and danced into the penalty box.
After a weaving run, he tried to square the ball when he might have shot. The chance was easily cleared by Argentina.
The Olyroos showed no fear as they took the game to the South Americans. Melbourne City’s Nathaniel Atkinson looked particularly confident and willing to take on defenders on the right.
The pressure paid off when Lachie Wales finished off a Joel King cross. He tapped home into an empty net in the 14th minute to give Australia a deserved lead.
The touch to control from King was excellent and the ball in was perfect. Argentina could do little to stop the goal once he crossed it.
Argentina nearly hit back when Valenzuela turned inside and shot from close range, Thomas Deng was on hand to deflect the ball away.
Riley McGree almost scored with a spectacular effort. His well-hit overhead kick forced a save from the goalkeeper.
Argentina was controlling possession but looked vulnerable when Australia counterattacked. They were mostly reduced to trying to beat Tom Glover from distance.
Barco came close to an equalizer when his long-range effort struck the crossbar with Glover stranded. Australia was otherwise defending in numbers and calmly.
The Olyroos almost doubled their lead when King and Wales combined again. Connor Metcalfe surged through midfield and released the fullback to cross.
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On the stroke of halftime, Francisco Ortega received two yellow cards in under a minute. First, he hacked down Atkinson on the wing and as Australia set up for the free-kick he was given another for grappling with Riley McGree.
It was an innocuous and mysterious incident but he felt the referee’s wrath after it seemed like an eternity of multiple delays. Australia suddenly had a numerical advantage to match their scoreboard lead.
Lachie Wales almost turned provider a minute into the second half. His ball to Duke was met well by the striker who saw it bounce off the crossbar.
In an ill-tempered and scrappy second half, Australia struggled to keep possession despite the numerical advantage. Argentina drew fouls and as the yellow cards began to add up it made almost every tackle risky.
An incisive, patient buildup saw McGree in on goal. After squaring it when he might have shot Wales’ close-range strike was saved.
Australia should have scored again but the game remained in the balance. McGree attempted to make amends with a 40-yard strike that sailed agonizingly over the bar.
Australia finally sealed a deserved victory with a wonderful goal from Marco Tilio. After coming off the bench, he released Duke into space on the left. The spearhead raced onto the ball and cut it back to the edge of the box.
Tilio met the ball at full pace and struck it hard beyond the keeper to send the bench into delirium and record a historic win.
The Olyroos will now face Spain at Sapporo Dome on Sunday at 8:30 PM AEST.
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