Harry Souttar scored the only goal as Australia held off a plucky Palestine in their 2026 World Cup qualifying match played at Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait City on Tuesday.
Thousands of Palestinians and their sympathisers turned out at the 60,000-seat venue for the game against Australia, Palestine’s first in front of fans since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.
Leicester centre-back Souttar ducked and headed the ball past the outstretched hands of Palestine goalkeeper Rami Hamadi in the 18th minute off a Craig Goodwin corner to put Australia top of Group I.
The Australian team, before the start of the match, donated a portion of their fees towards humanitarian causes in Gaza. The Professional Footballers Australia said a percentage of player match fees would be directed towards Oxfam, via the PFA’s Footballers’ Trust.
Australia has won both its matches and is top of the group with six points.
The Socceroos won the opening match against Bangladesh 7-0, but Palestine proved a much tougher nut to crack. They had few chances, and the only other meaningful one came in the 64th minute when Hamadi got down quickly to deflect a Brandon Borrello shot.
Japan demolished Syria 5-0 at Prince Abdullah Al Faisal Stadium in Jeddah, to go top of Group B with two straight wins by the same margin.
Real Sociedad star Takefusa Kubo opened the floodgates in the 32nd minute. Ayase Ueda followed with a brace inside four minutes to make it 3-0 by the 40th minute.
Yukinari Sugawara made it 4-0 two minutes after the break and Mao Hosoya completed the scoreline in the 82nd minute.
In other matches in the Middle East, UAE defeated Bahrain 2-0 in Riffa’s Bahrain National Stadium.
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