Australia’s World Cup qualifying campaign continues to stutter after they were forced to come from behind to earn a 2-2 draw with Thailand in Bangkok.
After starting the third round of qualification with back-to-back victories over Iraq and United Arab Emirates, the Socceroos have struggled to maintain their form with draws against Saudi Arabia and Japan.
They were expected to comfortably beat bottom of the table Thailand – who had lost all four of their AFC Group B matches – but that failed to materialise despite an explosive start that saw Mile Jedinak put the visitors ahead inside the opening 10 minutes from the spot.
Inexplicably they failed to capitalise on that start and Thailand shocked Ange Postecoglou’s side with two goals from Teerasil Dangda to lead with 30 minutes left to play.
Jedinak spared Australia’s blushes somewhat with his second penalty of the match, but the solitary point represents a missed opportunity to go top of the group after Saudi Arabia were beaten by Japan.
It all looked like being so different when Mathew Leckie tested Kawin Thamsatchanan in the opening minute, and when Jedinak scored his first penalty after Prathum Chutong had handled in the area an away win appeared the likeliest result.
Instead it appeared to galvanise Thailand – the lowest ranked team left in Asian qualification – and Dangda drew them level after 20 minutes with a close-range finish from Tristan Do’s low cross.
Chanathip Songkrasin then brought a fine save out of Mat Ryan before Australia finished the half strongly with Tom Rogic, Robbie Kruse and Leckie all wasting openings.
Buoyed by their first-half display, Thailand came roaring out of the blocks after the break and were gifted a chance to take the lead on 56 minutes when Leckie felled Theerathon Bunmathan inside the area.
Dangda made no mistake from the sport to send the home fans wild at the prospect of a memorable victory in their first international since the death of much-loved King Bhumibol Adulyadej – the fans paying their respects with a candlelit vigil prior to kick-off.
It was not to be, though, as Australia were awarded a second spot-kick when Siroch Chatthong was adjudged to have pulled back Jedinak, the Aston Villa midfielder keeping his nerve to convert from 12 yards.
With 12 minutes to play Australia could have snatched victory as Nathan Burns let fly from distance, but his effort clipped the top of the bar to leave both sides with a share of the spoils.
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