Bresciano Secures Socceroo Victory
Parma midfielder Marco Bresciano emergence on the international stage continues to rise after his lone goal secured a good victory for the Socceroos against South Africa at Lofus Road in London.
By Ben Coonan A first half volley from Marco Bresciano has guided the Socceroos to a 1-0 victory over South Africa at Loftus Road in London this morning.
Bresciano's 19th minute strike was the only difference between the two sides in what was an open and free flowing exhibition of exciting football.
The South Africans, however, were not without their chances and were it not for some questionable finishing in the final third, Bafana Bafana could well have taken something from the game.
The visitors looked a vastly different side to the one that failed so miserably at the African Cup of Nations, troubling the Australian's with their lightning speed and clever runs off the ball.
The match started frantically, and favourably for the African giants, with FC Copenhagen midfielder Sibusiso Zuma proving a handful for the Australian defence, particularly down the right flank.
Zuma was the at centre of all South Africa's forward movements and was unlucky not to score the opener in the first minutes, blasting a spectacular shot from long range just wide.
Australia's first chance came in the 13th minute when in-form Birmingham City flanker Stan Lazaridis was able to penetrate the South African defence and position himself to shoot.
Unfortunately for Lazaridis, the ball fell on his less favoured right foot and his resultant strike was headed away.
Within minutes though, the Socceroos had snatched the match winner.
Following on from a Lucas Neill throw-in, Mark Viduka flicked a clever ball over his head to the onrushing Bresciano, who slammed a left-footed volley into the bottom left-hand corner to give the Socceroos the lead.
Bresciano's strike left Bafana Bafana custodian Hans Vonk helpless and oozed the quality evocative of his other goal at this level, against Jamaica last September.
Just minutes later, the Socceroos were unlucky not to double their advantage, after Scott Chipperfield caught the defence napping by chasing a headed through ball by Harry Kewell.
Chipperfield got to the ball first and lobbed it over the onrushing Vonk and were it not for a desperate goal line clearance from German based defender Bradley Carnell, the Socceroos would have went two up.
The remainder of the first stanza was played at tremendous pace, with South Africa's best chance coming in the latter stages.
Shaun Bartlett, who had an otherwise quiet match, got inside the Australian defence and through on goal. With Schwarzer advancing, Bartlett elected to try and dodge past the Middlesborough 'keeper, but lacked the control to do so and the ball trickled over the goal line. The Australian's were spared for not the last time in the match.
Aside from Kewell's disallowed goal in the 48th minute, the Socceroos seldom troubled the South African goal in the early stages of the second half, but rather showed the tenacity that was evident in Caracas to hold on to their lead and effectively secure the result.
Siyabonga Nomvethe, a constant threat to the Australian defence with his sheer speed, did not have a night to remember as far as finishing is concerned.
After skying a glut of chances in the opening exchanges, Nomvethe's most prudent chance arrived in the 62nd minute after a clever lay off from Delron Buckley.
The Salernitana marksman's shot was parried away by Schwarzer and then cleared in desperation by Lazaridis with Stephen Pienaar waiting in the wings.
From the resultant corner, defender Thabang Molefe skewed his volley just wide of the Australian goal having been given a luxury of space at the far post.
To the home sides credit, Australia battled hard in the closing stages and worked efficiently to nullify the effect of Zuma and co., who were beginning to take a stranglehold on the game.
Osasuna striker John Aloisi, who had come on for Viduka, twice went close with headers late in the match. His first effort was inches wide of the far post after a chipped cross from Lazaridis, the second a tame effort wide of his near post after getting in behind the defence at a free kick.
Aside from the victory, another positive for Frank Farina was the arrival of Tim Cahill as a late substitute for Bresciano.
The moment the versatile midfielder had been waiting for finally came in the 75th minute and after a few nervous moments, the Millwall ace settled into international football comfortably and will no doubt figure in future Socceroo matches.
The win extends the Socceroos unbeaten streak to three ahead of their clashes with Turkey in May and will see Farina's charges leap several places above their lowly ranking of 83, considering South Africa's standing of 39.