Crowd finally rises to Socceroos occasion

It all started so quietly at a sold-out ANZ Stadium.

They took a while to get going but fans were delighted with the Socceroos' win over Honduras.

They took a while to get going but fans were delighted with the Socceroos' win over Honduras.

Heavy train delays all over Sydney ensured at least a quarter of the seats were empty at the kick-off whistle.

Those fans who did make it in time were respectful of the Honduran national anthem, even clapping politely at the end as the visiting squad acknowledged their small congregation of supporters.

That said, it took all of two minutes for the boos to begin, when Matt Jurman went into the book for a poor tackle on winger Alberth Elis, the complaints continuing every time a Honduran player hit the deck - which was often.

Yet the vibe was less the palpable knot of emotions of Uruguay 2005, and more fringe fascination, especially with more recognisable members of the squad.

Tim Cahill's every involvement sparked some noise, while a sea of front-row smartphones greeted English Premier League player Aaron Mooy when he stood on the byline to take a corner.

In the foreground, the opposing coaches more than made up for the passive atmosphere.

Ange Postecoglou, surly in his customary navy, wildly waved his players to "get forward".

Jorge Luis Pinto, diminutive in baby blue, emitted the most elaborate of gesticulations as he crab-walked his technical area.

The backdrop was a patchwork of yellow and neutral clothing, an "In Ange We Trust" sign the only real message to the national team they'd come to see.

Until the 54th minute, when Tom Rogic was scythed down deep in Honduran territory.

The mob rose to their feet as skipper Mile Jedinak aimed his free kick towards the far post, and a roar of jubilation accompanied the ball as it took a deflection and settled into the top corner.

Finally, a real game of football with a real crowd.

There was something on the line here.

Not the stuff of 2005 legend - an end to 32 years of World Cup pain at this very same venue.

But a sudden, immediate realisation that the qualification bubble Australia had taken for granted this past 12 years was not ready to burst.

And when Bryan Acosta was pinned for handball and Jedinak rammed home his 72nd-minute penalty, it will go ultimately go down in history the same way.

Flags were waved furiously, empty beer cups became airborne, and the relief of a nation reverberated around the 77,060 at a venue historically so kind to the Socceroos.

There would be no extra-time, no dreaded penalty shootout.

Only a send-off to Russia with love.

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