Socceroos rocked by controversy over winning goal at World Cup

Mitch Duke, pictured here scoring for the Socceroos amid controversy at the FIFA World Cup.
Mitch Duke's goal for the Socceroos was shrouded in controversy at the FIFA World Cup. Image: Getty/SBS

Controversy has erupted in the wake of the Socceroos' 1-0 victory over Tunisia at the World Cup after fans noticed a telling detail in the lead-up to their winning goal. Mitch Duke found the back of the net for the Socceroos in the 23rd minute on Saturday night, with the goal proving the winner as the Aussies hung on for just their third win at the World Cup ever.

However fans were left questioning the validity of the goal after noticing a Tunisian player had tripped over the referee's foot in the lead-up. After Duke produced a sublime touch near halfway from a long ball from Harry Souttar, Riley McGree found some space and spread the ball wide to Craig Goodwin.

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Goodwin's cross then took a deflection before Duke produced a superb header that evaded the Tunisian keeper to give Australia the lead. Socceroos players and fans celebrated wildly in the aftermath, however some took to social media to highlight the controversy.

Ellyes Skhiri, pictured here tripping over the referee while attempting to defend Riley McGree.
Ellyes Skhiri tripped over the referee while attempting to defend Riley McGree. Image: BBC/SBS

Many noticed that McGree was able to find space because Ellyes Skhiri had been inadvertently tripped up by German referee Daniel Siebert. Skhiri was attempting to cover McGree when he tripped on the referee's foot and was sent sprawling to the ground.

The Tunisian player got back to his feet and attempted to track back, but couldn't prevent Duke from scoring. Skhiri could be seen remonstrating with the referee in the aftermath of the goal, but there was nothing the official could do.

Football rules state that a referee can halt play if they are struck by the ball. However there is no such stipulation for when a player accidentally collides with the official. Nevertheless, some fans were left fuming over the nature of the Socceroos' goal.

"If the ball hits the referee the game stops and gets restarted with an uncontested drop ball. You'd think it would be the same if a referee wipes a player out," one social media user wrote. Another fan commented "can't do that", while a third labelled the incident "shambolic".

Socceroos on cusp of advancing at World Cup

Duke's goal has put Australia on the cusp of advancing to the knockout stages at the World Cup for just the second time. Currently sitting second in their group on three points, Australia will advance with a win or draw against Denmark on Wednesday (Thursday morning AEDT).

"It's the best moment of my life," Duke said after the game. The victory was Australia's first at the World Cup finals since they downed Serbia in 2010. They also beat Japan in 2006 - with that side the only in Australia's history to get past the group stage.

But coach Graham Arnold isn't celebrating yet, saying: "I just said to them (the players), no doubt the nation is extremely proud, but we have done nothing.

"You (players) have achieved something we can talk about after the tournament. But we're here to go as far as we can go. I don't want any celebration ... get ready for the next one."

Ellyes Skhiri, pictured here remonstrating with the referee after Mitch Duke's goal.
Ellyes Skhiri remonstrates with the referee after Mitch Duke's goal. Image: Getty

Midfielder Jackson Irvine said following Arnold's edict and muting celebrations would be difficult. "I have got to acknowledge what we did and what a big deal it was ... and how big that is for me and how much it means for everybody else," he said. "But I have got to let it simmer and let it fire us again in four days' time."

The Socceroos kept a clean sheet at the World Cup for the first time since 1974, chiefly because of Harry Souttar. In just his third senior game since recovering from a knee reconstruction, Souttar was simply superb with a string of interceptions and blocks.

"We were hanging on for a little bit towards the end ... but I am just so pleased," Souttar said. "When the final whistle went, just the relief - all that hard work we have put in so far and over the qualification stages has come to that."

with AAP

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