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The Socceroos ended a 763-day exile from Australian shores with a goalless draw against Saudi Arabia that was anything but dull.

Captain and keeper Mat Ryan was undoubtedly the finest performer, backing up a sensational display against Japan last time out. But a lack of composure and clinical finishing reflected a tough night for the attackers.

Here’s how every player rated!

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Ryan saves Socceroos wet return home! | 01:35

Mat Ryan: 9.5

Wasn’t forced to make a save in the opening half, but patrolled his area hawkishly. In tricky conditions, the Socceroos didn’t get him involved as frequently as usual, but his passing was top-drawer. Then in the second half, he came to life. He made a trio of good saves, including one superb one-handed diving stop to deny. “That’s what Matty’s there for, to save those goals,” coach Graham Arnold said. He did so brilliantly.

Aziz Behich: 5.5

After a torrid performance against Japan, Behich was strongly backed by coach Graham Arnold to rebound. He was solid defensively if not spectacular. He was up for the fight and was one who regularly butted heads as the contest threatened to boil over. Nevertheless, he was still the shakiest of the Australian defenders which leaves plenty of headaches for Arnold in the future.

Aziz Behich fumed at some gamesmanship from the visitors.
Aziz Behich fumed at some gamesmanship from the visitors.Source: Getty Images

Harry Souttar: 8

Had been outstanding all night until a knee injury in the 75th minute – a significant problem for next week’s clash with China given his consistency for the Socceroos in recent months. Arnold confirmed it was a knee issue, and stated that Souttar will be sent for scans on Friday. Souttar’s aerial work in defence was fantastic, and his combination with Trent Sainsbury was caught out only once or twice.

Trent Sainsbury: 8.5

Exceptional from the opening whistle, Sainsbury was the standout defender. He racked up interception and tackles with aplomb, with two in the first two minutes. His passing was secure and he was seen martialling Milos Degenek after Souttar’s unfortunate injury threatened to unsettle the defence. He was beaten to a long ball in the second half which led to a great chance for the visitors, but Sainsbury recovered well to put off the striker.

Rhyan Grant: 7

It was something of a surprise that Grant started, given Fran Karacic was one of the few to hold their heads high in the defeat to Japan. But the Sydney FC star was brought in for his ability to get up the park and whip in crosses, especially against a sometimes narrow Saudi defence. And he rewarded the faith with a typically attacking effort, constantly bursting up the sideline and exchanging passes with Boyle.

He won’t receive make many highlight reels, but Jeggo’s sensational effort in the centre of the park laid the platform for Australia.Source: AFP

Jimmy Jeggo: 9

In just his 10th cap, and his first start in only three days short of two years, Jeggo showed he still has a solid future in the green and gold. His defensive work was crucial to breaking up a pacy Saudi attack, particularly in transition. He looked calm on the ball, completing passes with his usual elite accuracy. In short, he did his job outstandingly.

Jackson Irvine: 5.5

Irvine gave the ball away too often in the midfield, but his defensive recoveries were excellent – frequently winning the ball back with tough tackles and quickly looking to get the ball forward on the counter. He had the best chance of the game but wasted it when he failed to put away Mabil’s second-half cut-back. There were enough good moments for a passable performance, but Irvine failed to make an incisive play in the final third.

Ajdin Hrustic: 7.5

Hrustic delivered an exceptional first-half effort but faded as the second half wore on. His passing range was absolutely sensational, pounding pinpoint balls to the wingers and overlapping fullbacks time after time. He battled hard off the ball and used his body to keep possession in the middle of the pitch very well.

Martin Boyle will be feeling it in the morning.Source: Getty Images

Martin Boyle: 6.5

His attitude was as energised and focussed as any on the park, marked by his second-half arguments with the referee and any Saudi Arabia player in sight – which could easily have seen him booked. He was a target of plenty of chopping tackles from the Saudis, and will be covered in bruises by the morning.

Always tried to take on the defender, with reasonable success, but his crossing was disappointing. Where Mabil was constantly looking to get behind the defence, Boyle could have gambled by taking more runs in behind the line to stretch the Saudis.

Awer Mabil: 5

Mabil’s fall out of the starting XI at club level appeared to be reflected in a rusty effort.

He was found brilliantly again and again with raking balls from Souttar and especially Hrustic, but failed to make his opportunities count – often with a poor first touch that reflected the difficult conditions.

Too often he lacked composure in the final third, choosing to pass or shoot when he could have taken on a defender directly. On the rare occasion he did make the right choice, Australia gained good chances, such as when he almost-but-not-quite teed up Irvine on the hour mark with a cut-back in the box. His passing was sometimes wayward in close situations, and he was the first man to be substituted.

Mat Leckie: 5.5

With Adam Taggart injured, Arnold made a bold call to start Leckie instead of the in-form Mitch Duke or the more clinical finished in Jamie Maclaren. It didn’t pay off.

Leckie worked hard to make runs behind the defence, though he was caught offside a couple of times. The service he received left him few opportunities however, and some wayward first touches wasted a number of promising positions. Hardly seemed to get a touch on the ball in the box, and his gilt-edged chance to break the deadlock from a tight angle on the hour mark was weak.

Leckie should have done better from here.Source: Getty Images


Mitch Duke: 5

Probably disappointed not to start, the former Western Sydney Wanderers skipper couldn’t find the net as easily as he did in the red and black. He worked hard on and off the ball but had little impact.

Milos Degenek: 6.5

Thrown into the game with 15 minutes to spare and with Saudi Arabia wrestling momentum from the Aussies, Degenek could hardly have asked for a more pressurised situation to enter. Stood tall, and will likely start next week unless Souttar’s injury is much less severe than it appeared.

Australia’s Andrew Nabbout (R) returned after nearly three years away.Source: AFP

Andrew Nabbout: 5.5

Back for the first time since the 2019 Asian Cup, Nabbout couldn’t score in the dying minutes when he took on a difficult shot from range. Got in good positions and was lively off the ball, but copped a yellow for a vicious flying tackle.

Riley McGree: 4

Had little impact, with a poor free kick from wide his only real contribution.

Kenny Dougall: 5

Pretty quiet in the centre of the pitch and didn’t do much to arrest the Green Falcons’ momentum.

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Police investigate Serie A incident, Fiorentina vs Empoli



Police have launched an investigation into an incident where a female TV presenter was allegedly “molested” by a football fan on live TV.

Italian journalist Greta Beccaglia appeared to be slapped on the backside while reporting from outside a stadium when the camera captured the moment a spectator in a green jacket, camo-styled trousers and purple beanie walked up behind her.

A visibly annoyed and shocked Beccaglia responded with a fright before wagging her finger at the fan, The Sun reports.

Her verbal response has been translated into English as: “Sorry, you can’t do this, I’m sorry.”

Shortly afterwards, another supporter stopped next to Beccaglia before swearing into the camera with a hand gesture.

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Greta Beccaglia was touched outside a football game. Photo: YouTube, Instagram.Source: YouTube
Greta Beccaglia was touched outside a football game. Photo: YouTube, Instagram.Source: YouTube

The timing of the footage will be particularly concerning for the Italian football authorities.

The spiteful Tuscan derby between Fiorentina as Empoli had been promoted as a designated ‘Violence Against Women’ event that was supposed to raise awareness of an anti-stalking hotline.

The match was the centre piece of a campaign branded: “Give violence against women the red card”.

It has since emerged that police are aware of the incident and have launched an investigation to identify the fan.

Local reports have suggested Empoli police are reviewing video surveillance and speaking to witnesses to try and catch the fan.

One report also indicates police will speak with Beccaglia to get her side of the story.

Greta Beccaglia in the TV studio. Photo: Instagram.Source: Instagram
Greta Beccaglia in front of the camera. Photo: Instagram.Source: Instagram

The incident has also raised questions about the response from the panel of TV studio presenters after they failed to show serious concern for their colleague.

Host Giorgio Micheletti has been criticised for responding to the incident by saying: “Don’t take it”.

The Order of Journalists of Tuscany condemned the incident and the response from Micheletti.

A statement from the guild described the actions against Beccaglia as “molestation”.

“Those in the studio, instead of condemning the gesture and the molester, invited the colleague to ‘not take it’. No words of solidarity were heard towards her from the conductor,” a translated statement claimed.

“The Order reiterates that the time has come stop minimising and remember that violence against women is above all a cultural and social problem.”

The statement said the organisation stands with Beccaglia in solidarity.

“The Order of Journalists of Tuscany today denounces the very serious episode of harassment against a journalist which took place on live TV at the end of the Empoli-Fiorentina match, in the days in which the greatest attention is paid to combating violence against women,” the statement read.

Serie A has also released a statement to show its support for the reporter.

“Violence is expressed in many forms. We condemn them all, today and forever,” the league posted on Twitter.

“Solidarity with Greta Beccaglia.”

Beccaglia on Sunday liked a series of posts on Twitter, which refered to her ordeal as “intolerable” and “aberrant”.

Over the weekend, players in Serie A had sported a red mark on their cheeks to promote a message against domestic violence and to spread awareness of an anti-stalking hotline.

Empoli came from behind in the contest with a late goal snatching a 2-1 victory.

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