Apostolos Stamatelopoulos debuts as Socceroos defeat Palestine

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Socceroos manager, Graham Arnold made his first substitution of the night during Tuesday’s 5-0 win over Palestine by bringing on Apostolos Stamatelopoulos to make his debut as number #644.

According to Socceroos.com.au it was the sixth clean sheet the team recorded in this round of qualifying seeing them finish atop the group with 18 points and 22 goals from the six games.

Two goals from Kusini Yengi and one each from Adam Taggart, Martin Boyle and Nestory Irankunda sealed the three points in front of 18,261 fans in Perth.

Graham Arnold made eight changes to the side that defeated Bangladesh last week and the rotated squad got to work quickly.

A penalty was awarded in the third minute when Aziz Behich was fouled in the box by Yaser Hamed. Kusini Yengi stepped up and slotted home to make it 1-0.

Australia vs. Palestine score, result from FIFA World Cup qualifier in Perth. Photo Socceroos australia.
Australia vs. Palestine score, result from FIFA World Cup qualifier in Perth. Photo: Socceroos Australia.

Both wide players were involved early on with Martin Boyle and Mathew Leckie both pinging crosses into Yengi and hometown hero Adam Taggart.

Despite a few forays from Palestine, the Socceroos were in control of proceedings and in the 26th minute they doubled the advantage.

2023/24 A League top scorer and Perth-local Taggart finished neatly in the corner after receiving a well-placed cross from Boyle.

In the 38th minute, across HBF Park, fans applauded to remember Dylan Tombides, the Perth-born, Australian youth team star who sadly passed away in 2014 after a three-year battle with testicular cancer.

Yengi doubled his tally in the 41st minute when he slammed home from close range after Boyle twisted and turned his way through two defenders in the box before finding the pass.

At the break it was 3-0 after what was a strong half of football from Australia, finishing with 60% possession and seven goal attempts.

The Socceroos started the second half with the same enthusiasm and scored again in the 53rd minute, this time Taggart returning the favour with a cutback to Boyle allowing him to tap home into an empty net.

Stamatelopoulos replaced Taggart at this point in the game, and at the same time, Connor Metcalfe came on for Baccus.

In the 70th minute Nestory Irankunda came on to the pitch for his debut on Australian soil, replacing Boyle who finished on two assists and a goal.

More substitutions followed 12 minutes later with Jordy Bos and Cammy Devlin entering the fray for Yengi and Leckie respectively.

Palestine started to threaten with a few dangerous attacks as the match went on however this left them open at the back.

And after some quick passes, Australia got the ball into the attacking box where it deflected off a defender’s arm and the referee awarded another penalty in the 87th minute.

Up stepped Irankunda who smashed his penalty into the corner to make it 5-0 and make him the second youngest goal scorer in Socceroos history at the age of 18 years and 123 days.

The final whistle blew shortly after and brought to an end this round of qualifying for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, which fittingly starts two years to the day.

Source: Socceroos.com.au

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