Monday, August 15, 2016

15 August 1993 - Schwarzer Saves The Day

On 15 August 1993, goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer made his first start for Australia in dramatic fashion, saving two penalties in a shootout to advance the Socceroos past Canada in a World Cup qualifier. 

Playing his club ball at the time for the Marconi Stallions in Sydney, Schwarzer had come on as a substitute in the qualifier's first leg, a 2-1 Canadian win in Edmonton, when Australia's starting keeper, Robbie Zabica, was sent off for a foul in the 17th minute. For the second leg in Sydney, manager Eddie Thomson looked to the 20-year old Schwarzer for the start. 

Australia looked the better side in the first half and were rewarded with a dynamic bicycle-kick goal from striker Frank Farina in the 44th minute to take a 1-0 lead. Canada equalized shortly after the break, but Australia's Mehmet Durakovic leveled the aggregate score at 3-3 with a high arcing header from just inside the box in the 76th minute. 

In the penalty shootout, Australia went up 2-1 after Schwarzer saved a shot from striker Alex Bunbury, diving low to his right to swat the ball away. Australia went up 3-1 and then Schwarzer made his second save of the day. He guessed incorrectly and dove to his left, but still managed to get his right hand on the ball, which came straight down the middle. Farina scored on the next kick to give Australia the win in the shootout by the margin of 4-1. 

Australia were eliminated by Argentina in the next playoff round. Schwartzer did not play in those matches, but returned in 1994 and made a total of 109 appearances for the Socceroos before retiring in 2013. 

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