Socceroos coach Graham Arnold says his charges will learn from letting a two-goal lead slip in a hard-fought 2-2 draw with world No.12 Mexico, while midfielder Jackson Irvine has been cleared of a serious ankle injury.
Two major defensive lapses brought Australia undone after they led 2-0 in the 63rd minute in front of a raucous pro-Mexico crowd at the AT&T Stadium in Dallas.
Harry Souttar headed home a Martin Boyle corner in the 16th minute to give Australia the lead.
Mexico’s Santi Gimenez missed a 54th-minute penalty following a Keanu Baccus handball, and nine minutes later Boyle made it 2-0 from the spot, with a penalty awarded after Riley McGree burst between Luis Romo and Julian Araujo and was brought down.
Raul Jimenez responded with a penalty for Mexico in the 69th minute when debutant Cam Burgess fouled Uriel Antuna after Mat Ryan opted not to come off his line to clear the danger from a long ball.
In the 84th minute, Souttar ducked under what would normally be a regulation header and Cesar Huerta nipped in between the centre-back and Ryan to rifle the equaliser home.
“I’m very proud of the boys, the way that we played. We did very well,” Arnold said.
“A couple of mistakes again – when you play against top nations, and let’s not forget we played against the No.12 in the world in Mexico, we make those mistakes and you learn from them.
“No disrespect to a lesser opposition, but if we played against lesser opposition, we wouldn’t have got punished the way we did.”
The night was further soured when Irvine, who had been superb throughout, rolled his right ankle on the artificial turf late on and was taken off on a stretcher.
“Because of the unbelievable facility that we’re in, we’ve already had an x-ray and he’s OK,” Arnold said.
“It’s just a rolled ankle. Bit of swelling on it, no doubt he’ll be injured for a couple of weeks but he’s fine.”
Arnold has delighted in Australia’s tough run of friendlies ahead of World Cup qualifying and January’s Asian Cup.
The Socceroos next face England at Wembley on October 14 and Arnold couldn’t resist making a tongue-in-cheek reference to a major incident between the two old enemies from the recent Ashes cricket series.
“The week that we’ve had, it’s probably been the best learning experience that you could have moving forward for the 2026 World Cup,” he said.
“Now, a couple of weeks and then we’re in Wembley and we’re going to do a stumping as well.”
Until the calamitous final half-hour, Souttar and Burgess had mostly looked comfortable in their first start together in the centre of defence, with Kye Rowles shifted to left-back.
Arnold noted his charges had struggled with the bounce of the ball on artificial turf.
“Honestly, I’ve already looked at the goals conceded,” he said.
“If it was on normal grass, both of those balls would have gone through to Maty Ryan or out.”
Striker Mitch Duke limped off in the 67th minute but Arnold said he was fine and had merely suffered “a bit of a knee in his backside”.
Debutant Sammy Silvera was introduced for Boyle in the 74th minute.