Australia’s dancing substitute goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne saved the last penalty to clinch a place at this year’s World Cup in Qatar as they edged Peru 5-4 in a shootout following a 0-0 draw after extra time in an inter-continental playoff yesterday.
Redmayne danced across the goal-line before diving to the right to stop a penalty from Alex Valera and hand Australia a deserved victory at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
Redmayne had been brought on three minutes from the end of the game for the shootout and became an instant hero with his antics on the line as he looked to distract the rival kickers.
He danced up and down, wiggling his hips and throwing his arms about in a throwback to the clowning antics of Liverpool’s Bruce Grobbelaar when they won the European Cup in 1984.
It was enough for Luis Advincila to fire his effort against the post and then Valera to have his effort saved as Australia qualified for a fifth successive World Cup and a sixth in total.
They will play in World Cup Group D with holders France, Denmark and Tunisia. The finals run from November 21 to December 18.
“I am just so proud of the players,” said Australia coach Graham Arnold. “Really no one knows what these boys have been through to get here, it was so hard, the whole campaign. The way they stuck at it, the way they committed themselves, brilliant.”
Australia’s Martin Boyle had missed their first penalty but they converted the next five to silence the thousands of Peru fans who had travelled for the game and provided noisy support but saw their team conjure up few opportunities.
Instead, a workmanlike Australia dominated the early exchanges, with winger Boyle twice cutting through the Peruvian defence to provide teasing crosses.
The single game playoff between the fifth-placed finishers in Asian and South American qualifying determined the 31st place at this year’s World Cup.
Today, the last place at the finals will be decided when Costa Rica and New Zealand clash in their inter-continental playoff, also at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.