August 13, 2022

Australia’s dancing substitute goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne saved the final penalty to earn a place at this year’s World Cup in Qatar as they beat Peru 5-4 in a shootout after a 0-0 draw 0 after extra time in an intercontinental playoff on Monday.

Redmayne danced across the goal line before diving to the right to stop an Alex Valera kick and hand Australia a deserved victory at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.

Redmayne had been brought in with three minutes remaining for the shootout and became an instant hero with his antics on the line as he sought to distract the rival kicker.

He danced up and down, flailing his hips and throwing his arms in a throwback to the clownish antics of Liverpool’s Bruce Grobbelaar when they won the European Cup in 1984.

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It was enough for Luis Advincula to launch his effort against the post and then for Valera to have his effort saved as Australia qualified for a fifth consecutive World Cup and sixth overall.

They will evolve in Group D of the World Cup with France, Denmark and Tunisia, defending champions. The finals take place from November 21 to December 21. 18.

“I’m so proud of the players,” said Australian coach Graham Arnold. “Really, nobody knows what these boys went through to get here, it was so tough, the whole campaign. The way they persevered, the way they committed, brilliant.”

On the decision to bring in 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 wondering, ‘Why is this guy being brought in, he must be good’.

“Maybe that’s why they hit the post. It’s 1% mental effort to bother Peru’s penalty takers. It was a risk but it worked.”

Australia had missed their first penalty but converted the next five to silence thousands of Peruvian fans, who turned out for the game and provided raucous support but saw their side create a few chances.

Instead, a professional Australia dominated the early exchanges, with winger Martin Boyle twice clipping the Peruvian defense to provide teasing crosses.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first with limited effort on goal until the 80th minute when Australia suddenly had three good chances to win the game.

Ajdin Hrustic’s tame free-kick was easily saved by Peru captain Pedro Gallese and five minutes later Aziz Behich made two tackles and suddenly found himself in front of goal but narrowly missed as he was trying to wrap his shot in the net.

Then a run down the left from Australian substitute Awer Mabil saw him slip the ball into Hrustic’s path but he didn’t have enough power on his shot and Gallese saved again.

Nine minutes after extra time, Australian Mathew Ryan was finally tested by a stinging shot from Edison Flores which the goalkeeper saved.

Flores then headed for the post as the South Americans found some extra gear in the closing stages, but they were still unable to settle the result after two hours, setting the stage for Redmayne to become a hero.

“I’m a bit at a loss for words. It’s a team game, it’s a team effort, so I can’t take more credit for myself than any of the other 27 [players] who are here,” Redmayne said.

“This idea was floated in pre-selection that it could happen in these kinds of circumstances and for the two or three weeks we’ve been here (in Qatar), I kind of had that in mind.

“I worked on a few things in training, but at the end of the day it’s a flip side, it’s either on the right or on the left.

“I’m not a hero, I just played my part like everyone else did tonight.”

Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said: “We were hoping to get there, we were close but unfortunately it wasn’t.

“We are flooded with pain. We gave it our all. They emptied their tanks and we feel cheated, we are excluded from the World Cup. We wanted to avoid penalties.”

The single-game playoff between fifth-placed Asian and South American qualifiers determined 31st place at this year’s World Cup.

On Tuesday, the last place in the final will be decided when Costa Rica and New Zealand meet in their intercontinental playoffs, also at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium.