Harry Souttar continued to defy his lack of playing time at club level with another breakthrough international performance in the Socceroos’ 1-0 win over Palestine.
After finding the back of the net in Australia’s 7-0 win over Bangladesh in Melbourne last Thursday, the towering defender scored again in neutral Kuwait to ensure the Socceroos began their qualifying campaign for the 2026 World Cup with consecutive victories.
Souttar, who is out of favor with his English Championship club Leicester, also dominated the defense in a match that was much tougher for Australia than many perhaps expected.
Socceroos captain and goalkeeper Mat Ryan also played a crucial role in the victory, making a superb save in the dying minutes of the first half when striker Tamer Seyam looked certain to score after the Australians failed to score. failed to manage a Palestinian corner.
Souttar had already put the Socceroos ahead when he headed home a Craig Goodwin corner in the 18th minute to score his 10th goal for Australia.
The pair also combined against Bangladesh when Souttar scored from a Goodwin free-kick.
But if that match opened the floodgates at AAMI Park, it was a different story at the Jaber al-Ahmad International Stadium, where the Australians toiled for long periods of the competition.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold made four changes to the team which started against Bangladesh.
Three of them were on defense, with Ryan Strain, Aziz Behich and Kye Rowles replacing Lewis Miller, Jordan Bos and Cameron Burgess.
The other change was in attack where star winger Martin Boyle, who had not taken a risk against Bangladesh due to knee swelling, returned at the expense of Western Sydney Wanderers star Brandon Borrello.
However, Strain only lasted 20 minutes before suffering a groin injury and being replaced by Miller.
Borrello was among the players injected into the game during the second half, with the Western Sydney Wanderers striker forcing a good save from Palestinian goalkeeper Rami Hamadeh in the 64th minute.
From the next corner, the Palestinians were saved by the woodwork when a header from Bos, who was also one of the second-half substitutes, hit the crossbar.
Souttar admitted the Socceroos could “play a lot better”.
“I don’t think we’re very happy with our performance,” the giant centre-back told Network 10.
“It’s a big lesson for us as a team, for some of the new additions to the team, to play games in Asia.
“If you want to qualify (for the World Cup), these are the matches you have to win.”