Saturday 11 November 2017, 00:01

Draw leaves Australia with slender advantage

  • Honduras and Australia play out goalless draw in San Pedro Sula

  • Socceroos dominated large spells of the first leg on Friday

  • Return leg in Sydney on Wednesday will decide who will qualify for Russia 2018

Australia earned a scoreless draw against Honduras in the first leg of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ intercontinental play-off, gaining a slim advantage heading into the return match.

It was the Socceroos who dominated the home side for periods of the match on an exceptionally heavy pitch in San Pedro Sula, but they were unable to finish any of their opportunities.

Tomi Juric had two excellent sights of goal – one in each half – while the lively Massimo Luongo forced Donis Escober into an early save.

Honduras failed to test Australia goalkeeper Mat Ryan until the final ten minutes when substitute forward Carlo Costly raced onto a long ball to force a save with a stinging shot.

Australia will be chasing a fourth successive World Cup qualification, and Honduras a third, when the team's match-up in Sydney on Wednesday.

“Overall I couldn’t be happier,” said Australia coach Ange Postecoglou. “But we are just missing that clinical edge. I thought we were really solid defensively on a difficult pitch and we held our line really well.

“It was as good a performance as we could expect in the circumstances. We will go hard , and we will have plenty of players who didn’t play available to us.”