‘You can see the relief on my face’: Kewell relives historic FIFA World Cup goal v Croatia

On this day in 2006, Harry Kewell’s late equaliser sent the Socceroos through to the last 16 of the 2006 FIFA World Cup after a thrilling decider against Croatia.  

It was the Green and Gold’s first appearance on the world stage for 32 years and their progression in the tournament hinged on the final group stage match in Stuttgart.  

Having beaten Japan and lost to Brazil in their previous two matches, Guus Hiddink's men only needed a point to advance.  

But the match could not have started in a worse possible way.  


After just two minutes, Croatia opened the scoring through Darijo Srna's superb free-kick, but for Kewell and the Socceroos, it only aided their confidence.  

"It was the best time to go down because we had 88 minutes to correct it," Kewell recalled.  

"It boosted our start and we felt confident.  

"We just went from strength to strength."

Craig Moore drew Australia level from the penalty spot on 38 minutes but the balance swung back Croatia's way when Niko Kovac's shot was fumbled by Zeljko Zalac in the 56th minute. 


Not even that moment could derail the Socceroos confident approach.  

"In the second half, we went out and Kalac made a mistake but not one of us got down about it," Kewell said.   

"We had to pick ourselves up again and we pushed and pushed.  

"Our fitness and our confidence at that time was second to none."

With just 11 minutes to go and the Socceroos staring down the barrel of elimination, Australia's golden boy stepped up.  

It was Marco Bresciano's in-swinging cross that found Kewell unmarked at the back post and he turned it in with ease to send Aussie fans everywhere into a frenzy.  


"The ball came across so I took it with my left and hit it with my right," Kewell remembered.  

"Seeing that ball go into the back of the net, you can see the relief on my face because I had just scored on the biggest stage of football.  

"That’s exciting, not many people get the opportunity to score and as it turned out, the goal was the one that sent us through to the last 16, which we were never expected to make."

A famous night for the Socceroos was capped off with the now-renowned quote from commentator Simon Hill, “Australia's golden boy has come up with a golden goal! It just had to be Harry!” 

Harry Kewell


Now 41, the former Leeds United and Liverpool star has taken his experiences from that fateful night into his coaching career.  

"In the position I was in a lot of people would have just blasted it and the ball would have gone straight over the bar," he said. 

"So, I tell a lot of players that I coach to just hit the ball down on the ground. 

"If you do that, nine times out of ten you'll hit it straight at the goal or you'll hit it down on the ground and that is the best because it will probably bobble."