Australia held on for a narrow 1-0 win over Jordan in their 2022 World Cup qualifier in Amman. Adam Taggart’s 13th-minute chipped finish was the difference between the sides at the King Abdullah Stadium.
Jordan started strongly, aggressively pressing the visitors, particularly down the left flank where central midfielder Jackson Irvine had been employed to make way for the the returning Tom Rogic in the middle.
Left-back Brad Smith, fresh from his MLS Cup victory with Seattle Sounders, struggled to combine with his out-of-position teammate. When the defender bolted ahead to attack, centre-back Milos Degenek was left struggling to cover for both him and Irvine.
But Australia were the first to strike with Jackson Irvine setting up Taggart with a delicious through ball. The Hull City player threaded a perfectly-weighted pass between the opposing centre backs and the Suwon Bluewings forward neatly finished past goalkeeper Amer Shafi in the Jordan goal.
The hosts had a 20th-minute penalty shout waved away when Yaseen Mahmoud Bakheet went down inside the box after being sandwiched between Smith and Degenek. Irvine then fluffed a glorious chance to double the lead off Aaron Mooy’s corner in the 29th minute when the ball rebounded into his feet just outside the six-yard box only for him to smash it over the bar.
After the break Jordan coach Vital Borkelmans brought on dangerous forward Mousa Mohammed Suleiman for midfielder Ahmed Sameer Saleh. And the change nearly worked five minutes after the restart when Suleiman rifled a shot over the top left corner of Mat Ryan’s goal from just inside the box. Tariq Khattab then missed another golden opportunity when the unmarked defender headed wide from close range.
The Socceroos manager Graham Arnold indicated his attacking intent by swapping Taggart for Mitchell Duke in the 70th minute and bringing on Martin Boyle for Awer Mabil on the right wing. But 10 minutes from time Jordan went close again when Hamza Aldaradreh rose to meet Mousa’s free-kick but Ryan athletically parried away his header.
The hosts continued to press for an equaliser, creating two good chances in the last 10 minutes, and they could have snatched a draw in added time. Aldaradreh rose to meet Yaseen Al-Bakhit’s cross with only Ryan to beat, but he sent his header over and his teammates slumping to the ground.
The hard-fought win moved Australia to the top of Group B with 12 points while Jordan remain second with seven.