Young Socceroos show spirit in comeback win
South Korea 1 Australia 2
Nikita Rukavytsya slots home the equaliser for the Socceroos. Photo: Getty Images
Nikita Rukavytsya and Robert Cornthwaite scored their first international goals as an experimental Socceroos ground out a 2-1 win over South Korea in their friendly match in Hwaseong on Wednesday night.
In a match where exciting Canberra youngster Tom Rogic and fellow rookies Aziz Behich, Eli Babalj and Mathew Leckie were all handed debuts off the bench, fringe players Rukavytsya and Cornthwaite made the most of rare starts to secure a come-from-behind win.
Striker Rukavystya's first goal in 10 appearances, set up by Tommy Oar, cancelled out Lee Dong-Gook's 12th minute opener after the Socceroos had been dominated early by their Asian rivals.
But Australia improved after half-time, with Cornthwaite tapping home the winner in only his second appearance in the 88th minute after Babalj had struck the woodwork.
Korean-based Cornthwaite was a late call-up to the squad after several players were ruled out with injury and his performance was one of several bright spots in a mixed performance for Australia.
Central Coast Mariners star Rogic came off the bench in the 68th minute to replace striker Archie Thompson. In an enterprising display, Rogic's best moment came in the 85th minute as he took off on halfway before launching an audacious 30-metre strike on target.
The Socceroos were disjointed at times as coach Holger Osieck took the chance to blood some young talent ahead of next month's East Asian qualifiers.
Osieck's starting team featured veterans including Lucas Neill, Mark Schwarzer and Canberra junior Carl Valeri but the German also handed starts to the likes of Rukavytsya, Oar, James Holland and Ryan McGowan.
Cornthwaite partnered Neill at the centre of defence while Michael Thwaite was a surprise selection at left back for his first appearance in five years.
South Korea also fielded a youthful line-up featuring only three players with 10 or more caps. But it quickly took control of the game when Dong-Gook netted his 10th international goal. Lee Seung-Ki caught Thwaite out of position and produced a lovely cross, with Dong-Gook beating Mark Schwarzer with a neatly-taken volley.
Rukavytsya, playing with Mainz in Germany's Bundesliga, came close to scoring in the 38th minute and didn't have to wait much longer to get on the scoresheet.
The striker latched onto a superb Oar through ball and side-footed the ball past Korean goalkeeper Kim Young-Kwang.
Valeri, in his 50th appearance, was forced off with an injury after half-time with Behich handed his Socceroos debut from the bench.
Neill came agonisingly close to an elusive goal for his country when his header was tipped wide in the 73rd minute.
AUSTRALIA 2 (Nikita Rukavytsya 44m, Robert Cornthwaite 88m) bt SOUTH KOREA 1 (Dong-Gook Lee 12m) at Hwaseong Stadium.