Socceroos started wild celebrations across the country when Graham Arnold’s underdog team made history with their World Cup victory against Denmark in Qatar.
Written off as one of the worst Socceroos teams to ever take part in the World Cup, Arnold and his side spectacularly silenced their doubters on Thursday morning, with their 1-0 win over Denmark sealing their place in the last 16.
It’s a feat only the ‘golden generation’ of 2006 could pull off, when a squad featuring Tim Cahill, Mark Viduka and Harry Kewell was knocked out by Italy in Germany.
The celebrations got off to a good start across Australia after their victory over Denmark
A number of fans flocked to George Street in Sydney and released a flare on Thursday
Fans gather and sing ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ to the tune of The Name of the Game
Australia can take it one step further this time when they meet Poland, Argentina, Mexico or Saudi Arabia in a match that will grip the country on Sunday morning.
But for now, the party is all over Australia, with fans sharing clips of themselves going all out during wild scenes in the early hours of Thursday.
The licensing laws of pubs and clubs across the country were relaxed to allow supporters to enjoy a pint or two at a time when the venues are normally closed – and Aussies certainly jumped at the opportunity.
At a bar on George Street in the heart of Sydney CBD, fans were seen hugging and jumping into the air on the road as the full-time whistle blew and Australia’s World Cup campaign continued.
Meanwhile, in a pub believed to be in Western Sydney, a fan is heard begging the referee to ‘blow your whistle, you bastard’ and when the official duly obliges, the whole venue explodes. their seats and celebrates wildly.
Thousands of supporters flocked to Federation Square for the big game on Thursday, leading some to joke that the area should be renamed Federation Flare
There were scenes of pure pandemonium in Melbourne after Mathew Leckie’s winning stroke in the 60th minute
In Adelaide, fans climbed onto tables and took off their Socceroos jerseys and waved their heads in scenes of pure pandemonium as the Australians made the impossible possible.
Back in Sydney, fans poured out of the bars and took to the streets to continue their celebrations, chanting ‘Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Aussie’ to the tune of The Name of the Game.
A fan in Melbourne took to Twitter to share how the match in Al-Wakrah gripped the city.
It wasn’t just Fed Square. Pubs in Melbourne were packed at 4am on a weeknight and cheers could be heard from several houses lining the streets.
At a pub believed to be in Western Sydney, fans went wild at the sound of the full-time whistle
Groups of friends hug and cheer after Australia’s place in the last 16 was confirmed
There were similar scenes in an Adelaide pub showing the match on a big screen TV
“A lot of these players were guys watching 2006 – this was just so special. We have to invest in this sport.’
Another Sydney fan commented, “I shared a special moment tonight. 4:40am, get off my Uber from the star. Flares at Norton St Leichhardt. 25 young men go berserk. IT’S A WEEK NIGHT.”
With the party at home just getting started, Graham Arnold kept his side well grounded as attention turned to their last 16 clash.
The Socceroos boss insisted there will be no celebration among his side after their victory over Denmark.
‘No parties tonight. That’s why we won after a great win against Tunisia,” he said.
“No partying, no emotion, sleep, no social media.”
Mathew Leckie’s stunning solo goal sank Denmark 1-0 to send Australia into the knockout stages of the World Cup for the second time.
Meanwhile, at Al-Janoub Stadium, the lucky fans witnessed Socceroo’s history in the flesh
Leckie’s superb left-footed attack sees the Socceroos follow the achievements of the so-called golden generation in 2006 by reaching the Round of 16.
But unlike that side, Arnold’s team managed to win two group games in a row – a feat the national team had never achieved at a World Cup.
The stalwart, played in space by Riley McGree, broke an hours-long deadlock with a cutting run on his marker Joakim Maehle after collecting some 30 yards from target.
First to the right, then to the left, Leckie twisted and turned his opponent and fired a low left foot to immediately enter Australian football folklore.
“When the ball rolled in I saw it go in, I was so excited and so happy,” Leckie told the pitch.
‘At the party you can see how much emotion there was.
‘I’m just so proud. We’ve worked so hard.
“This is now my third World Cup and I’ve had my chances to score in previous World Cups, that was not the intention.
“My first World Cup goal is probably one of the most important goals for me and for the team.”
Leckie’s timing was perfect in more ways than one.
In Australia’s other simultaneous group game on Wednesday (Thursday AEDT), outsiders Tunisia had scored just three minutes earlier against compatriot France, resting nearly all of their first-choice side.
Thousands of fans celebrated in Federation Square after Australia’s victory over Denmark
Supporters set off flares after Mathew Leckie’s goal was scored at around 3.30am
The Tunisian goal briefly lifted them to second in the group behind the French, only for Leckie to restore the Socceroos to that prized slot.
Australia will meet the winners of Group C, emerging as the winner of Argentina’s clash with Poland later on Wednesday (starting at 0600 AEDT Thursday).
Poland (four points) currently leads Lionel Messi’s Argentina (three points) with Saudi Arabia (three points) trailing on goal difference.
The Socceroos knockout match will be played on Saturday night (0600 Sunday AEDT).
Barring injury, Leckie and his captain Mat Ryan will break the Australian record for most cup games in the knockout competition.
Graham Arnold celebrates with assistant coach Rene Meulensteen after Australia’s victory
Against the Danes, the duo both made their ninth cup appearance, equaling the record of Tim Cahill and Marco Bresciano.
Goalkeeper Ryan was called into action early as the Socceroos lacked an early spark and were forced to fend off a series of attacks from the Danes, ranked 10th in the world, 28 slots higher than Australia.
Ryan made a reflexive save on a thunderous shot from Mathias Jensen in the 11th minute, the Australian parried away with both hands above his head.
The Danes controlled two-thirds of possession, with nearly double Australia’s first-half passes, but the Socceroos created some half-chances, mainly thanks to midfielder Riley McGree.
The immediate reaction of the Socceroos coach when the full-time whistle blew in Qatar
The attacking midfielder had the first shot of the game – a long-range left foot in the third minute that was blocked in the penalty area – and another some 20 minutes later after Leckie and Mitch Duke headed him into space.
After a scoreless half, Socceroos coach Graham Arnold replaced Craig Goodwin, who missed his usual fizz down the flank, with Keanu Baccus.
And Arnold must have boosted his players, who produced a much better second half to create another milestone.
“We always knew we could do it. We believed as a group,” Leckie said.
“We had our doubters. With our spirit, our beliefs, our work ethic and how close we are as a group, you see it on the pitch.
“We fought to the end for those last 15, 20 minutes. It didn’t matter what they threw at us, we didn’t give in.”