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 on Monday.
Redmayne danced across the goal-line before diving to the right to stop a kick from Alex Valera and handed Australia a deserved victory at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.
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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 kicker.
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 Advincula 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 kilometer in total.
They will play in Group D at the World Cup with holders France, Denmark and Tunisia. The finals run from Nov. 21-Dec. 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.”
On the decision to bring on Redmayne for the shootout, Arnold added: “He’s a very good penalty saver and I did something that could affect them mentally.
“They were probably asking themselves the question, ‘Why is this guy being brought on, he has to be good’.
“Maybe that was the reason they hit the post. It’s a 1% mental effort to trouble the Peru penalty takers. It was a risk but it worked out.”
Australia had missed their first penalty but converted the next five to silence thousands of Peru supporters, who traveled for the game and provided noisy support but saw their team conjure up a few opportunities.
Instead, a workmanlike Australia dominated the early exchanges, with winger Martin Boyle twice cutting through the Peruvian defense to provide teasing crosses.
The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with limited efforts on goal until the 80th minute when Australia suddenly had three good opportunities to win the match.
Ajdin Hrustic’s tame free kick was easily saved by Peru captain Pedro Gallese and five minutes later Aziz Behich broke through two tackles and suddenly found himself in front of goal but narrowly missed as he tried to curl his shot into the net.
Then a run down the left by Australia substitute Awer Mabil saw him slip the ball into the path of Hrustic but he did not get enough power on his shot and Gallese saved again.
Nine minutes into extra time Australia’s Mathew Ryan was finally tested by a stinging shot from Edison Flores that the goalkeeper saved.
Flores then headed against the post as the South Americans found an extra gear in the closing stages but they were still unable to settle the result after two hours of play, setting the stage for Redmayne to emerge as a hero.
“I’m a bit lost for words. It’s a team game, it’s a team effort so I can’t take any more credit than any of the other 27 [players] who are here,” Redmayne said.
“This idea was floated pre-selection that this might eventuate in these kind of circumstances and for the two or three weeks we’ve been here (in Qatar), I’ve kind of had that in my mind.
“I’ve been working on a few things in training but at the end of the day it’s a flip of the coin, it’s either right or left.
“I’m not a hero, I just played my role like everyone did tonight.”
Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said: “We had the expectation to make it, we were close but unfortunately it was not the case.
“We are flooded with pain. We gave our utmost. They emptied their tanks and we feel deceived we are out of the World Cup. We wanted to avoid the penalty shootout.”
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.
On Tuesday, 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.