Australia secured their first World Cup win since 2010 when Mitchell Duke scored a first-half header in a 1–0 victory over Tunisia in Group D.
Australia’s victory lifts them up to second in Group D ahead of today’s opponents after their first win in a World Cup final since beating Serbia in 2010.
Tunisia fell to the bottom of the group on goal difference with one point to their name.
Both sets of players entered the Al Janoub Stadium with a symphony of noise, the Australian players being greeted from the start with jeers and boos from the Tunisian fans every time they touched the ball.
Australia won their first World Cup match in 12 years with a 1-0 victory over Tunisia
An emotional Graham Arnold shared a hug with Tim Cahill after the game
Australian manager Graham Arnold was looking for a timely response from his players after their heavy 4-1 defeat to defending champions France on Matchday One, while Tunisia were looking for their first win of the competition after drawing 0-0 with Denmark.
And the Socceroos boss got exactly the answer he was looking for.
“I’m just hugely proud of the guys, they showed that amazing Aussie fighting spirit tonight. I expect we have made the nation very proud,” he said after the game.
MATCH FACTS AND PLAYER REVIEWS
Tunisia: Dahmen 6, Talbi 6, Meriah 5, Bronn 5 (73 Kechrida 5), Abdi 5, Laïdouni 5.5 (67 Khazri, 6), Skhiri 5, Dräger 5.5 (46 Sassi 5.5), Msakni 6, Jebali 5 (73 Khenissi 6 ), Sliti 5.
Coach: Jalel Kadri
Subs not used: Mathlouthi, Ifa, Ghandri, Mejbri, Maaloul, Ben Romdhane, Chaaleli, Jaziri, Ben Said, Ben Slimane, Hassen
Booked: Laidouni, Abdi, Sassi
Australia: Ryan 6.5, Behich 6.5, Rowles 6.5, Souttar 8, Karacic 6 (75 Degenek 6), Irvine 5.5, Mooy 6, McGree 5.5 (64 Hrustic 6), Goodwin 7 (85 Mabil 6), Duke 8 (64 Maclaren 6.5), Leckie 5.5 (85 Baccus 6)
Coach: Graham Arnold
Subs not used: Tilio, Wright, Redmayne, Devlin, Vukovic, Deng, Kuol, King, Cummings
Goals: duke 23
“Recently we played against the world champions and the boys had the same level of effort.
If the doubters hate us, bring it on. I told the boys after the game it was the best friendly we could ever have, a lot of those mistakes were removed tonight and I couldn’t be more proud of the boys.
“Now we move on, yes we have achieved one thing, but it is nothing, there is more to do.”
The Socceroos started the game as the better of the two sides and pressed Tunisia deep into their own half, but were unable to really threaten Aymen Mathlouthi in the Tunisian goal.
Although the game started with a lack of quality and cutting-edge dynamics, the desire of both sets of players was evident. Tunisia’s Montassar Talbi and Australia’s Jackson Irvine both flew in with fully committed, aggressive challenges, much to the delight of both groups of supporters.
The first real chance of the match fell to Tunisian midfielder Mohamed Drager in the 21st minute, but his long-range effort sailed over the Australian’s crossbar to the relief of goalkeeper Matt Ryan. Two minutes later, however, Graham Arnold’s team seized the initiative and took the lead.
Australia worked the ball well from their own 18-yard box to the left to winger Craig Goodwin, whose deflected cross fell invitingly to Mitchell Duke, and the striker sprang up and brilliantly shot it past Mathlouthi to put the Socceroos ahead .
Mitchell Duke scored the only goal of the game as he put Australia ahead in the first half
The attacker (right) worked selflessly for his team throughout the game
Australian fans were vastly outnumbered at Al Janoub Stadium but showed their support
Based on how the game had started for both sides, Arnold’s men were on trial and Tunisia had to pay for their lethargic first 25 minutes.
It was not until the 40th minute that Tunisia put the Australian goal on again and the Eagles of Carthage should have leveled the game.
After a good job from Aissa Laidouni squeezing into the Australian penalty area, the midfielder found Drager at the mercy of goal but Stoke defender Harry Souttar was on hand to do a superb blocking to keep Australia’s slim advantage.
The Australians continued to ride their luck as Youssef Msakni was found unmarked in the Socceroos six-yard block, but could only direct his furious strike wide of Ryan’s goal as Australia went into the break.
Australia put in an excellent defensive effort to keep Tunisia at bay in the second half
Harry Souttar (left) cleared a number of crucial blockades as Tunisia turned up the pressure
Jackson Irvine created a huge shift in midfield as the Socceroos dominated the first half
After the break, Tunisia continued their first-half dominance, but they struggled to break through Australia’s low defensive block.
Substitute Ferjani Sassi sums up the Tunisian frustration when he shot wide of goal in the 60th minute.
Tunisia’s head coach Jalel Kadri turned to former Sunderland winger Wahbi Khazri for inspiration from the bench in the last 20 minutes, with defeat looming for the African nation as Arnold’s game plan was put into motion.
Aaron Mooy was one of the best players in the Socceroos on Saturday
The hopes for the World Cup in Tunisia are hanging by a thread after the defeat against Australia
Australia should have killed the game in the 71st minute after Matthew Leckie narrowly missed the ball six yards from substitute Jamie Maclaren’s inviting cross, but within seconds of almost extending their lead, Tunisia almost leveled height with their first shots on target in the game.
Goalkeeper Ryan was called for a sharp save at his near post to deny Msakni, before comfortably claiming the ball after Australia failed to clear their lines properly.
Defender Souttar was a man possessed towards the end of the game, blocking anything the Tunisians threw at the Socceroos goal as Australia held on to a clean win.
Relive all the action from the World Cup Group D match between Tunisia and Australia with Sportsmail’s live blog