Massimo Luongo

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Capoue volley puts Watford into FA Cup quarterfinals

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The 2018/19 FA Cup has its first quarterfinal team in the form of Watford after Etienne Capoue scored a bouncing volley on the stroke of halftime to top Queens Park Rangers 1-0.

Both sides proved wasteful as the 18 total combined shots produced just two on target, but that was all Watford needed to move on in London.

QPR led the corner count with five to Watford’s three, but the Hornets used the set-pieces to earn its goal in first-half stoppage time. Taking a short corner to work the ball onto the left foot of Tom Cleverley, the looping ball into the box found Massimo Luongo, and while his shot struck a teammate, it rebounded right to Capoue standing laterally from the original shot, and he leg-whipped the ball to produce a bouncer that wrong-footed Joe Lumley and found the far corner.

The hosts probably should have been level as regulation wound down, but Toni Leistner’s sliding effort to meet a cross by Darnell Furlong somehow went wide.

Watford’s spot in the quarterfinals is just their fourth appearance this deep in the FA Cup since a three-year stretch from 1985 to 1988 where they made it all three times. However, since 1988, all three appearances in the quarterfinals have seen the Hornets progress to the semis, including in 2016 when they topped Arsenal.

Tim Cahill set to play in fourth World Cup for Australia

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SYDNEY (AP) Tim Cahill will have a chance to score a goal in his fourth consecutive World Cup for Australia.

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The 38-year-old forward was chosen on Sunday by coach Bert van Marwijk among 23 players set to play in Russia for the Socceroos.

Cahill has 105 caps for Australia and is the country’s leading goal scorer, but has struggled for form and match time in recent months. He is currently playing for Millwall in England.

Only three players have scored goals in four World Cups- Pele and German strikers Uwe Seeler and Miroslav Klose.

Australia’s squad is evenly spread, featuring three goalkeepers, seven defenders, six midfielders, and seven attackers.

Daniel Arzani, 19, is joined by Dimitri Petratos and Josh Risdon as the only three A-League players in the squad, while Mark Milligan also made the World Cup squad for the fourth consecutive time.

The final squad was the result of a two-week training camp in Antalya, Turkey and a 4-0 international friendly win over Czech Republic.

“I have been very pleased with the effort and application of all of the players during our time in Turkey,” van Marwijk said. “Every step of the selection process has been difficult because the players have all given everything to make the final selection.”

Australia is in Group C at the World Cup with France, Denmark and Peru.

The Socceroos will continue to train in Turkey for another week before travelling to Budapest for a friendly against Hungary on June 9. Australia’s World Cup opener is in Kazan against France on June 16.

Australia’s World Cup squad:

Goalkeepers; Mat Ryan, Danny Vukovic, Brad Jones.

Defenders: Trent Sainsbury, Milos Degenek, Matt Jurman, Mark Milligan, Josh Risdon, Aziz Behich, James Meredith.

Midfielders: Mile Jedinak (captain), Aaron Mooy, Massimo Luongo, Jackson Irvine, Tomi Rogic, Dimitri Petratos, Mathew Leckie, Daniel Arzani.

Forwards: Tim Cahill, Tomi Juric, Andrew Nabbout, Jamie Maclaren, Robbie Kruse.

Former Everton, Red Bulls star Cahill makes Australia’s provisional squad

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SYDNEY (AP) Tim Cahill has been included in Australia’s provisional squad for this year’s World Cup in Russia, boosting his prospects of being selected for a fourth World Cup.

Cahill was among 32 players picked in an expanded training squad, announced by coach Bert van Marwijk on Monday, but the veteran forward faces an anxious wait before knowing whether he will make the final cut for Russia.

The preliminary squad will be trimmed to 26 or 27 players ahead of a pre-tournament camp in Turkey later this month before the final 23-man roster is chosen on June 4.

The 38-year-old Cahill is Australia’s all-time leading scorer with 50 goals from 105 international appearances, but he has struggled for form and match time in recent months.

He rejoined English Championship club Millwall in January to improve his fitness but has played a total of just 63 minutes from 10 matches and failed to score any goals, but van Marwijk told a news conference his big match experience was highly valued.

“He is a special case … he is special in everything,” van Marwijk said. “He is 38 and maybe one of the best-ever players for Australia. He is a very good striker.

“He doesn’t play (at the moment), maybe five or 10 or 20 minutes. Also, he has a problem that he is suspended and I have to take a decision whether to take him to the world championship.

“He is not 19 like (Daniel) Arzani – he’s twice as old – but is also a player who can make a difference.”

Arzani, who is regarded as one of Australia’s brightest young prospects after helping Melbourne City win this season’s A-League title, also made the provisional squad. The teenage winger, who is also eligible to play for Iran, could become the youngest Australian to play at a World Cup if he makes the final cut.

There were few shocks in the makeup of the squad with van Marwijk sticking with the experienced core of players who guided the Socceroos through the long qualifying phase although the Dutchman did include one surprise by picking uncapped defender Fran Karacic.

Born and raised in Croatia, Karacic has never set foot in Australia but is eligible to play for the Socceroos because his father is Australian. Van Marwijk said Karacic was picked because Australia has a shortage of quality right backs.

“Everybody knows that the right defending position, I don’t have a lot of choice for that position,” van Marwijk said. “He is already the captain of his team, at 21-years-old.

“He plays only right-back and we don’t have a lot of players in that position … it’s a position we discuss a lot.”

Striker Jamie Maclaren was also recalled to the squad after some strong performances for Hibernian in the Scottish Premiership. Maclaren hasn’t played for Australia since a qualifier against Thailand in November.

Australia is drawn in Group C at the World Cup alongside France, Peru and Denmark.

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Australia squad:

Goalkeepers: Brad Jones, Mitch Langerak, Mat Ryan, Danny Vukovic.

Defenders: Aziz Behich, Milos Degenek, Alex Gersbach, Matthew Jurman, Fran Karacic, James Meredith, Josh Risdon, Trent Sainsbury, Aleksandar Susnjar, Bailey Wright.

Midfielders: Josh Brillante, Jackson Irvine, Mile Jedinak, Robbie Kruse, Massimo Luongo, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic, James Troisi.

Forwards: Daniel Arzani, Tim Cahill, Apostolos Giannou, Tomi Juric, Mathew Leckie, Jamie Maclaren, Andrew Nabbout, Dimitri Petratos, Nikita Rukavytsya.

Australia puts in dominating effort, but settle for draw against Honduras

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The Socceroos will surely be frustrated to not have come away with a goal (or several) on Friday, and now 90 more minutes will determine which nation goes to the World Cup.

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Honduras and Australia settled for a 0-0 draw at the Estadio Olimpico Metropolitano, despite the latter dominating the game’s chances.

Tomi Juric was a threat throughout the match, and had his header in the 54th minute gone anywhere other than straight at goalkeeper Donis Escober the AFC side would’ve gone ahead.

The Socceroos had several big opportunities to break the deadlock in the first stanza, but none better than when Tomi Juric found himself in on goal in the 34th minute.

Unfortunately for the striker, Juric scuffed his left-footed attempt wide of goal, keeping the match scoreless as the teams moved towards halftime.

Both sides came out a bit nervy in the opening minutes, and Australia nearly used that to its advantage in the 12th minute when Massimo Luongo forced an important save out of Escober.

The hosts were held to just one shot on target in the match, as Australia held strong defensively through 45 minutes.

The draw keeps Honduras’ unbeaten run in San Pedro Sula alive though, with Los Catrachos not having suffered defeat at home in their last six matches (since losing to Panama on Nov. 11, 2016).

Honduras and Australia will meet again on Nov. 15 in Sydney to decide which nation advances to Russia.

Despite Honduras’ lack of chances, a win or scoring draw (1-1, 2-2, etc.) will put Los Catrachos through to the World Cup on Wednesday.

Chile 1-1 Australia: Chile moves on despite Aussie show

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Australia looked the better side for good stretches of the match, and while it wasn’t enough to earn a semifinal place, the Asian champions will go home with a hard-earned point against a top South American team in Moscow. Had it not been for a pair of ugly misses in front of net, the Australians may have had a chance to advance. Alas, an equalizer by Martin Rodriguez was enough to cancel out Massimo Luongo‘s opener and send Chile through.

With Chile holding all the meaningful possession through the first half-hour, their best chance came in the 27th minute. Alexis Sanchez controlled a long ball from Eugenio Mena and was free on goal. While trying to settle and shoot, he was dispossessed from behind by Mark Milligan who recovered brilliantly. Sanchez went to ground, and after no initial call, VAR took a look and determined there was no reason to award Chile a penalty.

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Australia refused to be intimidated by their opponents’ stature. In the 36th minute, James Troisi lofted a brilliant ball for Luongo who had made a scything run into the box. Luongo slid to redirect the ball on net, only stopped by a charging Claudio Bravo.

That was a harbinger of what would come six minutes later. A shot by Robbie Kruse from just inside the top of the box clipped off a defender as he let loose, and the deflection sent the ball straight to Troisi who was free at the far post. With Bravo closing, the Melbourne Victory attacker looped the ball over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net for a shock lead.

[ MORE: Latest 2017 Confederations Cup news

The game opened up from there, and both sides had a chance on net before halftime. Arturo Vidal headed from close range, but it was blocked by a defender out for a corner. Down the other end, somehow three Australia attackers worked free on a failed offside trap, but Trent Sainsbury embarrassingly skied it well over the bar with nobody there to challenge.

After the break, it was more of the same as Australia proved dangerous, forcing Bravo into a number of saves. However, it would be Chile to score next and level the score. Past the half-hour mark, Australia failed to clear, and Eduardo Vargas headed back in front of net where Rodriguez was there to touch it in. Chile nearly took the lead moments later, but Vargas headed just wide after great work by Sanchez.

Australia had another golden opportunity to take back the lead, but when Troisi’s pinpoint ball to the far post found substitute Jamie Maclaren, the Brisbane Roar striker flubbed the huge chance, scuffing his first-time attempt, sending the ball skittering well wide. Chile’s point saw them through into the semifinals, where they take on Portugal. Australia’s two points were not enough to keep them in contention.