Thursday, 16 August 2012
The Socceroos are still searching for momentum ahead crucial World Cup qualifiers after suffering a 3-1 loss to Scotland in Edinburgh.
A memorable Mark Bresciano goal gave Australia an early advantage only for English Premier League target Jordan Rhodes to square the ledger before halftime.
After the break, debutant Jason Davidson endured a forgettable introduction to international football after heading into his own net, before Ross McCormack sealed Scotland's triumph with a clinical strike late on.
Although coach Holger Osieck seized the opportunity to experiment with his squad, trying several players in new roles and making six substitutions, the German was left with much to ponder ahead of next month's high-stakes qualifier away to Jordan.
"Of course I am (disappointed), definitely. There can't be any doubt," said Osieck.
"Individually and as a team, we didn't do today what we are able to do. That was definitely disappointing."
Scotland exerted their dominance from the outset, albeit without seriously testing Mark Schwarzer in the Socceroos goal early.
With David Carney struggling for game time at his club, Sasa Ognenovski awaiting the start of the Qatari Stars League in a month and captain Lucas Neill without a club at all, Australia's back line was and showed to be short of match sharpness.
The hosts would rue their profligacy when Bresciano delivered the ultimate sucker punch on 18 minutes.
With a penchant for producing the spectacular, Bresciano's 13th goal in green and gold was perhaps his best yet - a stunning first-time volley from some 20 metres that sailed untouched into the bottom corner.
Replays would show that Australia were unlucky not to have taken the lead moments earlier when referee Tom Harald Hagen waved away claims that Scotland's Daniel Fox had denied Brett Holman's goal-bound strike with his hand.
By halftime, Australia had eased their way into the encounter, with the attacking intent of Robbie Kruse - deployed in an unfamiliar role on the left of midfield - particularly telling in tandem with fellow attackers Alex Brosque and Holman.
Content to absorb pressure and pick their moment of transition, the pace of Australia's attacking trio on the shoulder of Scotland's back line ensured the Socceroos were an ever present threat on the counter.
Holman was withdrawn from proceedings with an apparent ankle injury minutes before the break, which will cause some concern not only for Australia, but for his new club Aston Villa, for whom he was set to make his debut this weekend.
There was more bad news in the second half for the visitors.
Debutant Davidson's ecstasy turned to agony within minutes after he miscued a header past substitute keeper Adam Federici to hand the hosts the lead.
By the time a second debutant, Ryan McGowan, was introduced off the bench, Australia had conceded their third, stretching their unwanted winless streak to four matches.
"See, even negative things also have some positives," said Osieck.
"The players now know where they stand and I spoke clearly to them in the dressing room.
"They know about my feeling and about my assessment. We will go from there and I will definitely draw my conclusion from that."