Australia save face against Kiwis after being booed off at half-time

Injury-hit Socceroos lucky to scrape victory as New Zealand fail to capitalise on their first-half superiority
Click to follow
The Independent Football

Substitute Brett Holman struck with the last kick of the game to give Australia an undeserved 2-1 victory in their World Cup farewell friendly against New Zealand at the Melbourne Cricket Ground yesterday.

Holman has been criticised for his lack of international goals, but his cool conversion after Carl Valeri's clever lob in the third minute of added time will have done his World Cup prospects no harm.

The 26-year-old AZ Alkmaar forward's second goal in 30 international appearances capped an otherwise forgettable display from the hosts.

New Zealand had gone ahead thanks to Chris Killen's close-range strike after 16 minutes and they should have had a man advantage at the break, but Vince Grella's horrific challenge on Leo Bertos earnt him only a yellow card.

It took a debut goal from young midfielder Dario Vidosic to bring Australia level after 57 minutes before Holman clinched the win late on.

The Socceroos were also without six first-choice players with Mark Schwarzer (thumb), Harry Kewell (groin), Brett Emerton (hamstring), Josh Kennedy (back soreness) and rested defenders Luke Wilkshire and Scott Chipperfield on the sidelines.

New Zealand were by far the superior team in the first period, with vice-captain Tim Brown shooting just wide in the 11th minute. Five minutes later a Simon Elliott free-kick was flicked on by Shane Smeltz for Killen, who beat Mark Milligan to the ball at the far post and expertly placed his shot past debutant goalkeeper Adam Federici.

The goal rattled the home side and Milligan, Grella and Cahill were all booked. By then the Kiwis should have been two goals up after the impressive Killen struck a post with a fantastic volley on the turn with Federici beaten.

The Socceroos were booed off at the break and coach Pim Verbeek responded by making five changes, replacing Federici, Cahill, Grella, Mark Bresciano and Craig Moore.

Third-string goalkeeper Brad Jones took his place between the posts while Michael Beauchamp, Mile Jedinak, Holman and Valeri joined him.

That meant Jason Culina played a more attacking role in midfield and it was his positive forward run that, albeit with the aid of a lucky deflection, set up Vidosic, who took his chance well with a low shot across Mark Paston.

Rory Fallon should have restored New Zealand's lead soon after when he headed straight at Jones after Tommy Smith's inviting cross.

In any case the All Whites looked to be heading for a confidence-building draw until Valeri's clever pass over the defence found Holman's run and the forward side-footed past the onrushing Paston.

Captain Park Ji-sung inspired South Korea to a 2-0 away win over fierce rivals Japan yesterday in a World Cup send-off for both teams.

Park stunned Japan in the sixth minute with a superb solo goal, bursting past three players before smashing home into the bottom corner from the edge of the penalty box.

Substitute Park Chu-young added an injury-time penalty to complete a deserved victory for the 2002 World Cup semi-finalists in front of a crowd of 57,000 in Saitama.

South Korea face Greece, Argentina and Nigeria in Group B at this year's tournament in South Africa, which begins on 11 June.

Japan have been drawn with Cameroon, the Netherlands and Denmark in Group E.

South Africa has set up more than 50 special courts to provide fast justice during the World Cup, officials said on Monday.

Justice Ministry spokesman Tlali Tlali said the 56 courts around the country would start operations immediately and wind up two weeks after the month-long tournament ends on 11 July.

South Africa has also built holding cells in several of the 10 World Cup football stadiums to handle hooligans and others who commit offences during matches.

The courts have been established to accelerate cases involving foreign fans so that they can be dealt with before either suspects or witnesses leave the country.

Tlali said the courts, housed in existing judicial facilities, would apply normal legal processes. "There will be no leniency and no different standards will apply," he said.

South Africa is one of the world's most violent countries outside a war zone and tournament organisers have blamed crime for the lower than expected foreign bookings for the World Cup; these are now put at around 300,000 compared with an original estimate of 450,000.