It was a goal heard around the world and saw the Socceroos progress to the last 16 of the World Cup for the second time in history, so how did Mat Leckie do?
The goal to crown Australia’s ninth individual World Cup scorer started in the Socceroos’ own penalty area with a familiar figure.
Within 15 seconds the ball rolled into the corner of Kasper Schmeichel’s Danish net.
Eriksen usually spells trouble
The sight of Christian Eriksen, one of the world’s most creative players getting his foot on the ball on the edge of the Socceroos’ penalty area, would normally spell trouble.
Only this time it preceded a counter-attack by almost the entire field. Eriksen rolls the ball into the feet of Kasper Dolberg, who immediately anticipates a back pass.
Harry Houdini starts it again
As he did against Tunisia with a long ball that found Mitch Duke’s feet nearly halfway, the colossal Harry Souttar again began the move that led to the Socceroos’ goal.
With Eriksen’s ball giving Dolberg a tap to stretch, Souttar expropriates the Danish star, who had only been on the pitch for a minute, and then has the confidence and composure to score a few goals from his own penalty area.
Duke’s crucial touch
If you thought you’d seen this before, that’s because you have.
As in the Tunisian match, Souttar looked for an outlet centrally and found tireless Socceroos striker Mitch Duke, who was once again standing with his back to the opposing goal in his own half.
But as he has done so many times this tournament, Duke cushioned the ball perfectly with his right foot to allow Australia to keep possession. While his wonderful ball contact against Tunisia was a deflection off the outside of his right foot for the first time, this time he took a second to keep the ball himself.
McGree finds space on the left
Graham Arnold’s tactical change to move Riley McGree to the left of midfield in the second half and push Jackson Irvine further upfield pays off, with Duke’s pass creating the space to expose the Danish defence.
This time, Duke releases the ball with his left foot to find McGree, and Irvine lets the ball roll through his legs as he senses his teammate is in space on the left flank, albeit still in the Socceroos’ half with the fullbacks of Denmark. of position as they desperately search for a target.
The killer pass
McGree has been asked to run a huge amount and work at the top of the Australian midfield, but his guts and quick thinking show why he is building such a successful career at Middlesbrough in England’s second tier.
He takes just one touch with his left foot to control the Duke pass, then immediately raises his head to see what’s in front of him, and Leckie makes a slanting run up from the right in his own half. McGree gives the pass past Joachim Andersen at the right time, with Leckie still in his own half meaning he cannot be ruled offside.
Leckie’s mazy dribble
For all his great service to the Socceroos over many years, the only minor criticism of Leckie was his ability to regularly produce the finished product with a deadly pass or an own goal.
Australian fans would be glad they waited so long for the Melbourne City man to perform on the biggest stage.
The 31-year-old picks up the ball just past the center circle on Denmark’s halfway side with just defender Joakim Maehle in front of him. Leckie takes the pass in stride with his right foot and raises his head twice to see if support is coming right behind him, but soon realizes it won’t be there in time.
He first spins Maehle onto the edge of the Danish box, caressing the ball on his right foot, but then cuts back with a sharp spin and then another touch to get to his left.
The shot was heard around the world
The first time Leckie touches the ball with his non-preferred left foot in the entire movement is the shot, which goes from 14 yards in the direction of Schmeichel’s far post. There’s a dash of fortune involved, but doesn’t everyone need it?
The blow rolls between Maehle’s legs and Schmeichel, the son of legendary Manchester United goalkeeper Peter, can only watch in despair as his dive is helpless. The ball rolls into his left post and into the side net.
Not that they knew it at the time when Tunisia stunned world champions France, but the move that started in Australia’s own penalty area and ended in Denmark’s was the difference between history and another World Cup group stage exit.
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