Venezuela 1 - Australia 1

I stayed at home to watch the game, and deliberately didn't write until this morning to allow those trying to keep away from the score until VCRs had been processed, or the replay seen.

For Andre's benefit, in SE Oz, the game was a 10:00am ko, finishing just before mid-day. Dunno what it was precisely in the other five time-zones, but I reckon even in the west there'd have been people who'd be unable to see it before starting a work-day's travel.

I reckon the team did well. As the game went, I'd have preferred better marking at the death and so not getting the deserved win was disappointing, but 1-1 going into the game would have well-suited me.

I reckon Venezuela would also be looking at the result and reckon it was OK, playing as they were with ten for a quarter of the match, and creating a spare player for the goal when they were ten against eleven.

I agree that Colos was good and not out of place, but I thought he was skating on thin ice after his booking, and especially after the double-yellow to Venezuela, was probably lucky to stay on the park. For example, if you've been booked - you *never* subsequently seek to delay the start of a free-kick by encroaching/failing to retire. Simon did.

Bresciano was as good as I've ever seen him, the defence was good except for that unbelievable added-time lapse, and the whole team weathered that Venezuela second-half blitz when things could have been tipped the "Vino tinto's" way (I hadn't known Venezuela's team was called that before yesterday morning. "Red wine" indeed!

What a terrible bumpy pitch - scarcely of international standard, but the type of thing Oz teams need to experience. The team of 1974 would have relished that, and perhaps have had the upper hand because of it, but our 2006 preparation side have probably not ever played on a surface like that since they were u-11s.

I was sorry to see Stan off because of his injury, but I think he was entirely unsuited to such a crappy pitch, and wouldn't have been very influential had he stayed.

Given the last-minute nature of our attack, and some of our midfield, I reckon they did good too. I probably could have scored Ago's goal, but I probably wouldn't have smart enough to have worked my way into Ago's position. Drilic was good and worked very hard even after he was in a team which had a fabulous 1-1 result just days before. Pity he mis-timed that header - it was him wasn't it? - 2-0 up at that stage would have been pretty fair, all things considered.

So - well done Oz. And well-done SBS whose commentry team did a great job given the fact that the Venezuela camera operators were obviously on work-experience, and the Venezuela TV director was distracted by some insects in the caravan.

BTW - according to SocOz, the players are returning to Sydney on Saturday about mid-day on a Qantas flight, but Frankie is coming back a day later on an Argentine Airlines flight. Some sussing out of conditions elesewhere? Or is he just tired of their company after a week?

Written by Alan Clark