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Australia vs Kuwait, FIFA World Cup Qualifying, scores, results, video, analysis, Mat Leckie, Ajdin Hrustic

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The Socceroos made it five-straight wins for the first time in a decade with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Kuwait on Friday morning, restarting their World Cup Qualifying campaign with a bang.

With three debutants, and returning players like James Holland and Ryan McGowan, it was a new-look Australian side. But the squad gelled together remarkably well, producing an impressive performance.

Here’s how every Socceroo played, as one surprise star stole the show.

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Mat Ryan (7): Looked unphased throughout the clash, facing just one shot on target, though he made a smart save at the near-post to thwart that attempt. Comfortable with his feet, as well as dealing with aerial balls from crosses. Dashed off his line once or twice in the early minutes to stifle balls into the box. Couldn’t really have asked for more, but he’ll face tougher tests ahead.

Milos Degenek (6): A sound performance, barring one key error. Degenek mislaid an obvious pass on the hour mark that was intercepted, allowing the hosts to launch a rapid counter-attack and carve a strong opportunity. The central defender’s workrate to recover and attempt a block was impressive, but mistakes in possession could prove costly against a more clinical attack. Nevertheless, did his best to nullify the attacking threat of Kuwait.

Ryan McGowan (7): Making his first appearance since 2017, and coming straight out of the Australian winter, you could forgive McGowan for being nervous or not up to scratch. But that was hardly the case. Got beaten on the dribble by a pacy pair of Kuwait forwards a couple of times, but put in a solid shift. Marshalled the defence well.

Aziz Behich (7): A constant threat down the flank, his passing combinations were swift and precise. Harried the wingers and ran hard to recover in transition. Delivered a sizzling ball across the face of the goal which deserved a better response from Leckie, who was caught napping and quickly put his hand up in apology.

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Fran Karacic (8): A fantastic debut! His long throw presented a unique threat and almost caught the defence napping. His workrate and movement off the ball was top-notch, constantly causing his opposite number troubles and opening spaces for Awer Mabil to play in behind. Played seven balls into the area in the first half alone, the most of any player. Rhyan Grant finally has genuine competition at right back.

James Holland (7): Seven years after his last call-up, Holland didn’t miss a beat. Recycled the ball well at the base of midfield, allowed Jackson Irvine room to roam forward, and made a number of crucial tackles and interceptions that halted attacks before they got off the ground.

Ajdrin Hrustic (9): Just his fourth appearance in the green and gold, and his first as a starter – this certainly won’t be Hrustic’s last. As Mark Bosnich gleefully declared: “As exciting a player I’ve seen for Australia in a really, really long time.”

The German-based playmaker was Australia’s finest performer, winning a penalty and banging home a free-kick to seal the win.

Hrustic’s ball control in tight spaces was impressive, as was his range and tempo of passing. Australia has been looking for more creative midfield options – particularly against deep-set defences – and Hrustic put his name up in lights.

His ability to take on a defender is something that has been perhaps missing in the heart of the midfield for some time. His corner-taking was a little underwhelming at the start, but he found his range later in the first stanza. And his second-half free-kick – although benefiting from poor goalkeeping – was nothing short of sensational.

Jackson Irvine (8): Behind Hrustic, Australia’s best. Passed well, ran hard in the heart of the park, and was constantly aggressive both with the ball and without. He reacted fastest to tuck home the penalty and make it 2-0, adding to a hot run of goalscoring form for his national team. In a sign of Australia’s intent and effort throughout the clash, four players were inside the six-yard box at the time Irvine struck that goal. Could have easily had an assist in the first half, too, when he Martin Boyle through on goal for a one-on-one chance in the opening half an hour, only for his Hibernian teammate to poke wide.

Martin Boyle (6): Not his finest performance in the green and gold, but when you notch an assist in the opening minute you’ve certainly done something right. That turn and cross was pinpoint to find Leckie perfectly. His penalty attempt was saved well, and he would have finished the rebound had Irvine not claimed it. Ran hard down the wings, passed well, but really should have scored when played into the box by Irvine.

Mat Leckie (7.5): Leckie just loves wearing the armband and playing against Kuwait! Two goals in the equivalent fixture back in 2019, and another one today. Leckie led from the front in a true captain’s knock, proving he’s still adept at taking the number nine role as well as out wide.

Drifted off his man inside the first minute, found space at the back post and headed back across goal unstoppably.

One criticism: He really should have scored more. A second unmarked header inside five minutes was sprayed well wide, as was a half-volley attempt after he brought down a cross with his chest inside the box. Had six shots in the first half alone.

Awer Mabil (5.5): Moments of magic married to moments of disappointment. His balls into the box were underwhelming, and wasn’t as impressive, inspirational as we expect. But his work off the ball was very good, running selfishly to create chaos in the defence and open spaces for teammates.

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SUBSTITUTES

Kenny Dougall (5.5): The game had broken up and become scrappy by the time of his arrival. Showed exactly what he’s capable of, robbing the ball in transition and immediately playing an incisive ball into the box, only for it to be slightly overhit. Tried to recreate his recent rocket strike from Sunday’s Wembley match for Blackpool when he unleashed from the edge of the box, but also overhit that. Plenty of enthusiasm for the debutant, including a willingness to launch raking long balls.

Chris Ikonomidis (6): Back from an ACL, you couldn’t wipe the smile from his face. Ran hard and was always looking to get on the end of crosses and through balls. Not much of an impact.

Mitchell Duke (5.5): Didn’t get many chances, as Kuwait improved in the second half and stopped the bombardment of balls into the box. Kept things calm up front. Solid.

Riley McGree (6): Immediately slotted into the No. 10 role, but what would usually be a heavy burden for a debutant was eased by a three-goal margin. Australia’s fluidity had largely disappeared by that stage, but his quick feet and intent was clear. Promising debut for the 22-year-old.

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Christian Eriksen: Denmark team-mate performed 'heroic' act before CPR medics arrived

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Christian Eriksen is in a stable condition after collapsing during Denmark’s opening Euro 2020 match against Finland on Saturday.

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Christian Eriksen collapse, Sabrina Kvist Jensen, update, CPR, hospital, Denmark vs Finland, BBC apology, vision, footage

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The BBC has apologised after complaints for continuing to broadcasting while Denmark’s Christian Eriksen received emergency treatment during a Euro 2020 game against Finland.

Inter Milan midfielder Eriksen was rushed to hospital after suddenly falling to the turf late in the first half in Copenhagen.

Danish players were in tears as medical staff tried to revive Eriksen with CPR but he was pictured being carried off on a stretcher.

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The Danish federation later said on Twitter that Eriksen was awake and undergoing tests in hospital.

The BBC came under scrutiny online for not cutting away to the studio soon enough as Eriksen received treatment, with the decision branded “inexcusable”.

The broadcaster also was criticised for streaming vision of Eriksen’s crying wife and teammates.

In a statement, the BBC said: “We apologise to anyone who was upset by the images broadcast.

“In-stadium coverage is controlled by Uefa as the host broadcaster, and as soon as the match was suspended, we took our coverage off air as quickly as possible.”

Gary Lineker, who was a leading part of BBC’s coverage issued an apology on Twitter:

“I understand some of you would have been upset with some of the images shown (we were too). Obviously these were the host pictures and out of our control. They should have stayed on a wide of the stadium. Apologies”.

He then added that: “In 25 years of doing this job, that was the most difficult, distressing and emotional broadcast I’ve ever been involved with”.

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Christian Eriksen: Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand in tears during emotional press conference

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Denmark boss Kasper Hjulmand was in tears when speaking about Christian Eriksen.

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