The Joeys have kept their chances of advancing to the 2015 Under 17 World Cup knock-out rounds after they managed a draw against Mexico in Chillan, Chile on Wednesday afternoon. It was an impressive result against the two time champions, and 2013 runners-up, with only great saves denying Australia at the death.
When the draw was made earlier in the year, pitting Australia up against Germany, Mexico and Argentina, the Joeys hopes were low. After the 4-1 loss to Germany, hopes were further lowered, but the Joeys recovered phenomenally well and they could well have claimed all three points in this match.
The match got off to an entertaining start as it started with an end-to-end affair with Duro Dragicevic doing well in the Joeys goal. Australia’s best early chances were coming from free-kicks which saw Jake Brimmer sending in a curling effort which was well saved by the keeper.
Mexico, as expected, started to take charge of the match and they had a great opportunity on the half-hour mark. Jose Gurrola found Eduardo Aguirre on the right hand side of the penalty area who hit the ball well and beat Dragicevic but hit the post and went out of play.
It was a dominant performance from Mexico in the first half as they really went on the attack in the closing stages of the half. But Australia did well defensively, but they were able to do well even clearing away a goal mouth scramble, to keep it scoreless at the break.
The second half saw Australia come out the stronger side and they really started to go for the match, and some poor defending allowed the first opportunity of the half. Some quick passing from the Joeys allowed them to set up Nicholas Panetta who got his shot away but sent it agonizingly wide.
Australia were dominating the match throughout the second half, but LA Galaxy goalkeeper Abraham Romero was also dominating. Kye Rowles was able to get a header away from close range but his header was well saved by Romero.
Mexico started seeing more of the ball in the latter stages and were able to pass it around but for all that possession they struggled to create chances. The Joeys defence was proving much too strong for Mexico to overcome and that left only one possible winner.
Right at the death Romero denied Australia taking all three points as a foul on Joshua Hope set up the opportunity. Panos Armenakas stepped up to hit a curling strike which looked certain to hit the top right corner only for Romero to make the save and salvage a point for Mexico.
Australia will now play Argentina for a chance at advancing to the knockout rounds, and will come in with some confidence. Argentina now sit at the bottom of the group, after a 4-0 loss to Germany, with Australia currently sitting in a qualifying position.