18-year-old breakout star Garang Kuol has delivered his best game of the A-League season for the Central Coast Mariners, scoring twice in his final hitout before flying to Qatar for the World Cup.
Meanwhile, Riley McGree scored a rocket in England’s Championship as the attacker hopes to earn a place in the starting XI in Australia’s World Cup opener against reigning champions France.
Here’s all the action from our Socceroos around the world in the final weekend of club action!
Kuol kicks goal from impossible angle! | 01:08
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Teen sensation Garang Kuol has never started a senior match, but he only enhanced his burgeoning reputation as a game-changer off the bench when he starred for the Central Coast Mariners on Sunday.
Down a player and down two goals against Macarthur, Kuol emerged off the bench to hit back twice and level the scores at 2-2, first from the penalty spot then with an absolute worldie seven minutes later.
Kuol picked up a cross and controlled it at the back post, before firing into the roof of the net from an extremely tight angle. He now has two goals and two assists in four matches this season.
But the Mariners comeback was foiled when 19-year-old Macarthur gun Jed Drew scored past Socceroos keeper Danny Vukovic in the 95th minute. It capped off a poor day for Vukovic, who gifted Macarthur the opener in the 13th minute when he bundled the ball straight to Bulls attacker Al Hassan Toure.
It was also a disappointing outing for the Mariners’ third Socceroos World Cup squad member, Jason Cummings, who missed a second-half penalty after a shot moments before went in the back of the net – but the referee had blown his whistle too early.
Melbourne City’s Jamie Maclaren had no such trouble on Saturday, scoring his eighth goal of the season in just six appearances this season – including at least goal every game. He found the back of the net against Newcastle Jets in a pulsating 2-1 win where City held on for the final 15 minutes after a red card.
Full World Cup schedule with AEDT times and when the Socceroos play
Maclaren stars in City win over Jets | 00:56
Fellow Socceroo Mat Leckie also impressed in the win, while Maclaren’s goal was set up by 21-year-old Marco Tilio, who was unfortunate to miss out on the World Cup. The win extended City’s lead at the top of the table to three points over Western Sydney Wanderers.
Socceroos keeper Andrew Redmayne suffered a heartbreaking 1-0 defeat as his Sydney FC went down in the derby to Western Sydney Wanderers in front of a bumper crowd well over 30,000. Having made a string of fine saves to keep his team in contention, Redmayne was beaten by Kusini Yengi in the 70th minute in the only goal of the encounter.
On Friday, Adelaide captain Craig Goodwin scored a goal and picked up an assist with a pinpoint dead ball cross in a 3-0 Original Rivalry win over Melbourne Victory as he continued his hot streak of form.
EVERY SQUAD: See all 32 official squads here as they are announced
Group A: Fourth-time lucky hopes for fancy; hosts’ big chance to avoid humiliation
Group B: Injury-hit England in WC Group of Death, US-Iran rivals rematch 1998 epic
Group C: Messi’s last dance, Barca scoring machine leads dark horses
Goodwin in PEAK form for World Cup! | 01:03
Kuol wasn’t the only Qatar-bound Socceroo scoring bangers, as Riley McGree’s equaliser for Middlesbrough against Norwich City had the away fans in raptures.
In the 64th minute, the ball bounced up perfectly for McGree who was just outside the 18-yard box before unleashing a sweet left-foot strike that left Canaries goalkeeper Angus Gunn clutching at thin air.
Middlesbrough eventually scored the winner thanks to Matt Crook’s stoppage time effort.
However, two Socceroos defenders didn’t quite enjoy their final games before the World Cup.
Bailey Wright started for Sunderland against Birmingham City on Saturday (AEDT) and the Black Cats were looking the goods at 2-0 up.
However, Wright was at fault for Birmingham’s first goal when he swung at thin air when a Blues cross came in from the left flank and the ball rolled in the path of Lukas Jutkiewicz who made no mistake with the finish.
Tottenham take comeback win over Leeds | 00:43
Thankfully, Wright and his Sunderland troops held on for a 2-1 victory.
Kye Rowles also had a day to forget as he was sent off in the 75th minute for Hearts in their Scottish Premiership fixture against Livingston.
Rowles was caught red-handed by VAR for pulling on the shirt of Livingston striker Joel Nouble inside the area, as the referee gave him his marching orders.
Cameron Devlin got 62 minutes in the tank for Hearts while Nathaniel Atkinson was an unused substitue.
Towering centre-back Harry Souttar was rested for Stoke City’s 2-0 defeat to West Bromwich Albion while Aaron Mooy ws as an unused substitute in Celtic’s 2-1 win over Ross County.
Keanu Baccus logged just over 10 minutes of action for St Mirren after coming on as a substitute against Scottish heavyweights Rangers. Baccus was brought on with St Mirren leading 1-0, but a late penalty from James Tavernier ensured Rangers took a point.
Jackson Irvine played every minute of St Pauli’s wild 4-4 draw against Karlsruher. Irvine’s side had to come back a whopping three times, with the final equaliser coming in the 61st minute.
Fran Karacic was not involved in Brescia’s scoreless draw against Ternana.