Australia's Harry Souttar sparkles in huge win - 'not turning back on Scotland', classy Celtic man, Martin Boyle raises crutches in huddle

Watching Australia defeat Tunisia 1-0 at the World Cup, and in particular taking note of Harry Souttar’s colossal performance in the centre of the Socceroos’ defence, it would easy to say that Scotland let one slip through their fingers.

Harry Souttar puts in a crunching tackle during Australia's 1-0 win over Tunisia.
Harry Souttar puts in a crunching tackle during Australia's 1-0 win over Tunisia.

Born in Aberdeen, raised in Brechin and with a brother, John, who plays for Scotland, there will be many scratching their head as to why Harry doesn’t do the same. He was capped at under-19 level by Scotland but then chose to represent Australia at under-23 and then senior level. He’s now their main centre-half at the age of just 24 and put in one of the best defensive performances of the World Cup so far as Graham Arnold’s men held on to a lead against the Tunisians.

Australia may only require a point in their final match against Denmark to progress to the knockout stages. They go into that match on Wednesday with a live chance, that’s for sure. Souttar and the rest of his team-mates were immense, recovering brilliantly from the 4-1 defeat by France earlier in the week.

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Let’s keep the focus on Souttar, though. He qualifies for Australia via his mother and listened to stories from her and his granny about life down under. He’s only just back from a year on the sidelines after an ACL injury. Stoke City, his club, will field calls for his services in January after that performance.

Celtic midfielder Aaron Mooy was the classiest player on the pitch.

“It’s not really that I picked Australia over Scotland, and I turned my back on Scotland,” Souttar explained in the summer to dispel some myths. “I’ve seen a lot of stuff in the papers (like) that, (but) it was not like that at all. It was just a natural thing for me to pick Australia, it was something I wanted to do for me and my family.”

It's hard to argue with Souttar’s choice given he is playing at the World Cup. Bruised by the beating they received from Kylian Mbappe and Co, Australia were compact at the Al Janoub Stadium against the Tunisians and took their chance on 26 minutes when Mitchell Duke diverted Craig Goodwin’s deflected cross into the goal with a fine looping header. After that, they were so disciplined at the back and threw everything on the line.

There was a healthy dollop of SPFL influence in the performance, even if first-choice right-back Nathaniel Atkinson of Hearts missed out due to an ankle injury. Dundee United’s Aziz Behich was a beast down the left flank. Hearts centre-half, Kye Rowles, was next to Souttar and was a rock. One small mistake, which Souttar mopped up with a crunching tackle, otherwise he was excellent. The Jambos have a right good ‘un on their hands. St Mirren’s Keanu Baccus came on as a late sub but the last word from the Scottish-based contingent goes to Celtic’s Aaron Mooy. The midfielder was the classiest player on the pitch and narrowly missed out on the man-of-the-match award to Souttar.

At full time, manager Arnold got his players in a huddle and addressed them, his arm around Hibs’ Martin Boyle in the centre of it. The forward was so cruelly ruled out of the tournament by a knee injury but he’s stayed in Qatar to cheer his country on. Standing on crutches, he raised them to the sky after Arnold’s address. In true Aussie style, this is a team built on spirit. You would not bet against them reaching the last 16, with Souttar and the rest continuing to shine.

Hibs forward Martin Boyle was cheering his team-mates on from crutches.