Andrew Redmayne was the hero as Australia stunned Peru to clinch a place at a fifth straight World Cup with a dramatic 5-4 penalty shootout victory in the intercontinental play-off in Qatar.
The goalkeeper, brought off the bench by coach Graham Arnold just before the end of extra-time after 120 goalless minutes at Al Rayyan Stadium, dive to his right to repel Alex Valera’s effort and secure the Socceroos’ place in the tournament later this year.
The Sydney FC keeper – whose distinctive style when facing penalties involves dancing along the goalline and waving his arms about, and has earned him the nickname “the gray Wiggle” – replaced captain Mat Ryan in a move that was specifically made to unsettle the Peruvian team .
“Andrew Redmayne is a very good penalty saver, and to try to get him on the mental aspect while we were making that change, to add that bit of uncertainty in their brains, that was the reason,” Arnold said.
The Socceroos got off to the worst possible start when Martin Boyle saw the first kick of the shootout saved by Pedro Gallese but Redmayne got Australia back on to level terms at 2-2 with a save to deny Luis Advíncula.
Redmayne played down his role in the famous victory, adding that his introduction for the shootout had been planned well in advance of Tuesday (Wednesday morning AEST).
“This idea was floated pre-selection, that this might happen in these kind of circumstances, and for the two or three weeks we have been here, I have had that in my mind.
“I’ve been working on a few things in training, but at the end of the day, it is either right or left, the homework has been done and I’m just grateful to the other boys for running at 120 minutes.
“I’m no hero. I just played my role like everyone else did tonight. Not even the 11 on the pitch, it was much more than that, it is a team effort.”
Arnold’s job had been the subject of speculation amid a disastrous run earlier this year that threatened to derail the team’s qualification campaign, but he said “the doubters don’t bother me”.
Ajdin Hrustic went closest for the Socceroos in regulation time with a curling effort that went just wide just before the full-time whistle, while Edison Flores nearly broke the deadlock for Peru with a header that struck Ryan’s upright in the 109th minute.
The full World Cup draw will be completed on Tuesday (Wednesday AEST) when Costa Rica and New Zealand clash for the final place still up for grabs.
Joey Lynch’s full report to follow.