Irvine downs Kiwis to keep Soccer Ashes for Australia

Australia's soccer players have followed their cricketing counterparts by defending the Ashes in London, albeit they have done so with a victory, defeating New Zealand 2-0.

The win ensured Australia keep the century-old Anzac Soccer Ashes trophy, which was recently uncovered in a Queensland garage having been missing since the mid-50s.

Victory also snapped a four-match losing streak and set up Arnold's men for next month's' 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Bangladesh and Palestine.

Harry Souttar claimed the first goal, though Mitchell Duke's 14th-minute shot barely brushed the Leicester City defender's chest on the way in.

Australia's Jackson Irvine celebrates scoring his side's second goal
Australia's Jackson Irvine celebrates scoring his side's second goal
Stephanie Meek - CameraSport via Getty Images

There was no doubting the identity of the second scorer, Jackson Irvine rising at the far post to head in Martin Boyle's 76th-minute corner.

There could have been more, with substitutes Ryan Strain and Brandon Borello missing excellent chances while New Zealand rarely threatened Mat Ryan's goal.

The Socceroos were on top for most of the match with Keanu Baccus and the recalled Massimo Luongo controlling central midfield, while Connor Metcalfe and Duke were a handful in attack.

A crowd of 5761 had been drawn to Premier League Brentford's ground, where the Matildas beat England's women earlier this year, despite the competing attraction of England's men playing Italy at Wembley Stadium.

They saw a reshaped Australian team with Graham Arnold making a quintet of changes from the XI that lost narrowly to England. He handed a debut to 20-year-old Parma defender Alessandro Circati and a first start to Hibernian's Lewis Miller.

The new boys were given an early confidence boost when they combined to set up Souttar's goal.

A set-piece was kept alive enabling Miller's crossing expertise to come into play. At the back post Circati headed the ball down for Duke to volley in what he thought was his tenth international goal from close range.

However, Souttar claimed the goal for his eighth in Australian colours, the ball skimming his chest as it beat Michael Woud.

Woud then dived full-length to turn aside a Jordan Bos drive before Boyle was flagged offside as he stabbed in a Bos cross.

In the second period Boyle brought another good save from Woud after he was released by Metcalfe. That could have been costly as a 64th-minute Bill Tuiloma free kick struck the bar.

But any thoughts of a Kiwi comeback were dashed as Irvine settled the contest.

With the century-old wooden trophy too fragile to travel, Ryan was presented with a silver cup. There are plans for a replica to be produced for future contests.