Souttar heads unconvincing Socceroos past Palestine

Defender Harry Souttar says the Socceroos' unconvincing 1-0 win over Palestine was an important lesson about the difficulties of qualifying for the World Cup through Asia.

Australia sit top of group I on six points after Souttar nodded home in the 18th minute at the Jaber Al-Ahmed International Stadium in Kuwait.

Only a magnificent save from Mat Ryan just before half-time stopped an excellent Palestine (seven shots, two on target) equalising.

The Socceroos (eight shots, five on target) struggled with Palestine's intense pressing and failed to create many meaningful chances.

"I don't think we were best pleased with our performance. We can play a lot, lot better," Souttar told Network 10.

"But it's a great lesson for us as a team and a couple of the new guys coming into the squad about playing games away in Asia.

"If you want to go through and qualify, these are the games you've got to win.

"We stood up to the task and end of the day we won the game but we know as a group and as a squad we can play a whole lot better."

With Bangladesh and Lebanon drawing 1-1 in their earlier match, Australia will resume qualifying in March, after the Asian Cup, four points clear with four games to play.

The top two teams in the group progress to the next stage.

"It's exactly what I predicted and thought: that Palestine were going to come out with that type of energy, that type of workrate and fight and you've got to give full credit to Palestine," coach Graham Arnold told Network 10.

"Probably we didn't play our best but the most important thing was the three points.

"I'll have a bit of break now, a bit of a reflection on everything and I look forward to that."

Harry Souttar, Oday Dabbagh
Harry Souttar, heading clear from Palestine's Oday Dabaghb, was a dominant presence in both boxes.

The win was soured by a groin injury to right-back Ryan Strain in the 21st minute.

The game was relocated from the West Bank to Kuwait due to the escalation in violence in the region, but the crowd was clearly pro-Palestine.

Palestine players wore keffiyehs around their necks for their national anthem and both teams lined up around the centre circle before kick-off for a minute's silence.

In response to Hamas' October 7 attack that killed about 1,200 people, Israel has bombarded Gaza.

Palestinian officials say more than 13,000 people in Gaza have been killed.

The Socceroos have committed a portion of their match payments to Oxfam's humanitarian efforts in Gaza, with the sum matched by Football Australia.For the goal, Craig Goodwin curled a wicked left-footed corner onto the forehead of Souttar, who drove home his 10th international goal.

Palestine weren't deterred and almost equalised in the 45th minute, when Ryan made himself big to deny Tamer Seyam's close-range shot.

Socceroos young gun Jordy Bos should have scored when he turned a free header onto the bar in the 65th minute.

From there, Palestine had Australia on the back foot, but were unable to conjure an equaliser.

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