Socceroos lose out to Argentina

The Subway Socceroos have fallen 2-0 to World Champions Argentina at Beijing’s Workers’ Stadium in an international friendly on Thursday night.

Australia conceded inside two minutes courtesy of a Lionel Messi stunner and substitute German Pezzella’s header extended the buffer midway through the second half.

It was an entertaining contest but Argentina demonstrated why they are one of the best teams on the planet and at times were unplayable.

Australia did provide a good test and looked to attack and play forward with purpose, however were unable to manufacture ample opportunities.

Jordan Bos received his maiden Subway Socceroos start by Graham Arnold and was one of four changes from the eleven that lined up against La Albiceleste in that fateful FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ Round of 16 clash.

Bos joined Nathaniel Atkinson, Jamie Maclaren and Aiden O’Neill, where it was announced during the week the midfielder had signed with Belgian side Standard Liege on a four-year contract.

Meanwhile, Lionel Scaloni named a strong starting line-up, headlined by Messi, Alexis Mac Allister, Angel Di Maria and Enzo Fernandez. Indeed, Nicolas Gonzalez and Di Maria were the two inclusions that did not start in the Argentine side which edged past Australia six months ago.

Containing Messi would have been top of the agenda heading into the clash, though it took just 90 seconds for him to break the deadlock via a brilliant strike from outside the box.

The Aussies lost the ball cheaply in midfield and Fernandez found the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner, who then did the rest, evading a challenge to sensationally curl his effort into the corner beyond an outstretched Mat Ryan.

Mac Allister then fired over the bar in the fifth minute after getting in behind the defence.

Once Australia began to settle and have less turnovers, they managed to experience more possession further up the park, recording some decent passages of play. And on 28 minutes they almost found an equaliser.

Bos, who was extremely impressive in the opening 45 minutes, cut inside onto his right and sent in an inviting cross to Mitch Duke and his volley produced an instinctive save by Emiliano Martinez. The ‘keeper’s parry ricocheted off the post before diving on the loose ball.

But despite the Green and Gold’s period of dominance, Messi almost made it 2-0 when Rodrigo De Paul’s aerial through ball played in the forward, except he was unable to keep his chipped effort down.

Ajdin Hrustic was introduced at the interval and involved in some neat build-up 10 minutes into the second stanza following a short corner routine off the training ground. Keanu Baccus connected with the creative midfielder’s looped cross but his header was repelled by Martinez.

Brandon Borrello and Denis Genreau entered the fray but before they could get stuck in the World Champions doubled their advantage on 68 minutes with Pezzella heading home unmarked in the box from the improvised corner swung in by De Paul.

Ryan then pulled off a sensational one-handed save to thwart Julian Alvarez from close range and prevent the lead from growing any further.

Arnold made a triple substitution on 73 minutes with Ryan Strain, Connor Metcalfe and Alexander Robertson replacing Nathaniel Atkinson, Riley McGree and Mathew Leckie respectively. 

The Aussies battled hard but could not find a way back from the early concession, suffering defeat in the Chinese capital against a squad littered with phenomenal individual quality.

Match Details

International Friendly
Thursday, 15 June 2023
Argentina 2 (Messi 2′, Pezzella 68′)
Australia 0
Workers’ Stadium, Beijing