Australia progressed to the World Cup Round of 16 for only the second time in their history after Mathew Leckie’s second-half winner sent Denmark crashing out at the group stage.

The Socceroos began their Group D decider thinking a draw would be sufficient but with Tunisia surprisingly beating France, who had already qualified, Graham Arnold’s side required victory, as did the Danes.

Denmark missed several good first-half chances to take the lead with Milos Degenek denying Jesper Lindstrom with a brilliant block and Mat Ryan saving a Mathias Jensen effort.

Instead it was Australia — whose only previous appearance in the last 16 came in 2006 — who broke the deadlock on the hour, springing Leckie on the counter-attack.

The Melbourne City forward twisted Denmark defender Joakim Maehle inside and out before threading a precise left-foot shot low into the right corner.

The Danes, who had reached the knockout stages in four of their five previous World Cups, tried to stage a fightback but the lack of cutting edge that characterised their two previous group games continued to dog them as Australia celebrated wildly at the final whistle.

Source: Bryan Palmer