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Awer steals show as Socceroos warm up with win over Kiwis

Awer Mabil was the star as the Socceroos downed New Zealand 1-0 in their World Cup warm-up match at Suncorp Stadium.

The winger, who plays his club football with Cadiz in Spain, scored a stunning long-range effort and threatened all night before being withdrawn in the 70th minute.

Amazingly, it was his first Socceroos goal on home soil – the previous seven having all come in the Middle East, which will surely bode well for a World Cup in Qatar.

Manager Graham Arnold would have been particularly pleased by his combination work with left back Aziz Behich: Mabil was consistently able to cut inside and find the onrushing defender in dangerous positions.

Jackson Irvine said he was ‘far from satisfied’ with a Socceroos performance in which they were often dominated by the All Whites.

Mabil’s goal was the brightest moment of the first half for the Socceroos in what was otherwise a tight game.

New Zealand, who will not be at the World Cup in November, nearly scored twice early on, with both chances largely of Australia’s own making.

Within seconds of kick off, Trent Sainsbury passed straight to Tim Paine, who could have done a lot better with his shot. In the ninth minute, Chris Wood was able to flick on a simple punt up the field but, again, the finish was lacking with Andre de Jong putting it wide.

Australia did have their chances. Jackson Irvine, excellent in the middle, missed a simple chance off an Aaron Mooy corner and Mabil shot wide from distance.

The breakthrough always looked like was going to be from Mabil. He created once chance via Behich before taking matters into his own hands with a stunning shot after cutting inside off his wing.

The game lost tempo after the break as substitutions kicked in. The All Whites had the bulk of the play, but Australia were happy to sit back and, indeed, had the best chance to extend their lead as Matt Leckie hit the post with five to play.

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