Mile Jedinak led Australia into next year's World Cup with a deflected free kick and two penalties in Wednesday's 3-1 intercontinental playoff victory over Honduras, and Peru beat New Zealand, 2-0, to claim the final spot in the field. Jedinak, who ...
“It is a wait of 35 years — we didn’t deserve to be away from the World Cup for so long,” said Christian Cueva, who set up both goals. “All Peruvians should take this Thursday to celebrate as never before.”
After a scoreless tie in New Zealand on Saturday, a more vibrant Peru showed up at the Estadio Nacional and denied New Zealand a third appearance at the World Cup.
Australia is going to the World Cup. Honduras is not. Credit Saeed Khan/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesDespite the absence of their main striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a FIFA doping ban, the Peruvians controlled the match from the start.
Striker Jefferson Farfan opened the scoring in the 28th minute from the edge of the box burying the ball into the New Zealand net. In tears, the Lokomotiv Moscow forward showed the shirt of his boyhood friend Guerrero to the crowd.
Defender Christian Ramos netted the second in the 65th from Cueva’s corner.
A still tearful Farfan said after the match that his team had “to endure a lot of nonsense until we got here.” Before being banned, Guerrero scored six goals for Peru in South American qualifiers.
“I dedicate this to Paolo, I promised him we would deliver,” Farfan said.
Australia had opportunities to qualify directly for Russia in Asian qualifying but missed out on goal difference to Saudi Arabia in a tight finish in that group.
That forced the Australians into an Asian playoff against Syria, which veteran Tim Cahill sealed with two goals in Sydney last month to set Australia up for the last-ditch home-and-away series against Honduras.
The Australians edged Uruguay on penalties in a playoff in 2005 to qualify for the following year’s World Cup in Germany, and then qualified directly for 2010 and 2014.
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said his Socceroos “did it the hard way, but we deserve to be there.”
The final word went to the jubilant Jedinak, a veteran midfielder who plays for second-tier Aston Villa in England.
“We got the job done and that’s all that matters — it’s going to be a big 2018,” he said.