Top-flight football is now assured for Denis Genreau, who will join an illustrious list of Socceroos for plying their trade in Europe’s top 5 leagues.
There were also a number of Australians among the goals at the weekend with Jamie Maclaren and Martin Boyle scoring late in the Champions League.
Meanwhile, Riley McGree has opened his Middlesbrough account in style at Swansea City.
Read all about it in our latest Aussies Abroad wrap!
Denis Genreau and Toulouse FC have had one of the most compelling promotion campaigns in the world this season, having officially secured their place in the French top flight next term with three games to go.
Going into their home game against Niort, the men in purple knew that just one point would be enough for promotion and three crucial points to secure the league title. Genreau started the game as a substitute, eventually being brought on midway through the second half as Toulouse capped off another convincing display. A diving header from Ado Onaiwu sealed the 2-0 win later, throwing the home fans into chaos – with the host broadcaster struggling to keep the cameras still to film the celebrations, such was the vibe caused by the Toulouse supporters .
Genreau also had the ball in the back of the net after it was introduced, only to be disallowed by the offside flag.
A pitch invasion ensued after the final whistle, with the southern French town once again represented in Ligue 1, with a young Australian in his engine room in midfield. The task is still not complete, with a victory in Toulouse’s next game that will see them take the title.
England & Scotland
Midfielder Riley McGree is back on the Championship scoresheet, scoring his first for new club Middlesbrough in a 1-1 draw with Welsh side Swansea City.
A loose pass from the Swansea defenders was seized by the Australian, who with the help of a deflection sent the ball over the goalkeeper from over 20 yards, tapping the crossbar before to finally bounce into the net.
The goal and result keep Middlesbrough firmly in the hunt for a Championship play-off promotion position, with just two games to go.
Celtic are within reach of the Scottish Premiership title after entering the final stage of their league campaign in perfect style, sending Ross County 2-0 away from home. Australian midfielder Tom Rogic came off the substitutes’ bench for Ange Postecoglou’s men in the 64th minute, with the Hoops looking to extend their 1-0 lead. Rogic was involved in setting up Jota’s final sealer, with the 88th-minute tap-in sending Bay off in a rapture.
Alongside the win, Tom Rogic was also nominated for the SPFL Goal of the Season for his early season goal against Dundee United. The poll is voted on by fans and closes at the end of this week, with the ‘Wizard of Oz’ needing all fans in green and gold to show their support for the Socceroos star.
The celebrations of a famous Scottish Cup semi-final victory continued for Hearts and Nathaniel Atkinson, the defender tasting victory in his first encounter in Scotland’s final round, beating Dundee United 3-2 away. Out of the title challenge due to Celtic’s overnight victory, Socceroo can still make history for their new club in the coming weeks by completing a 3rd place finish and a potential Scottish Cup crown.
European qualification next season is slowly out of reach for Eintracht Frankfurt and Ajdin Hrustic, with the Bundesliga side dropping points at home in a 2-2 draw, after a late equalizer scored by opponents Hoffenheim. Socceroo started the game as a substitute before being introduced with 15 minutes to play but could do nothing to stop Georginio Rutter’s diving header in the 78th minute, who leveled the scores to keep the dream alive of Hoffenheim from a top four alive.
Although the road to the UEFA Champions League via the German league has become more difficult for Hrustic and his team, they can still reach the continent’s premier competition with a Europa League semi-final win over London side West Ham United, starting with the first leg away from home during the week (Friday 5am AEST).
In the German second division, Jackson Irvin and his club FC St Pauli suffered a blow in their promotion campaign with a 2-1 loss at home to direct rivals Darmstadt, which now puts the midfield side in third place – the last position remaining in dams.
St Pauli will now need to earn three more points to gain automatic promotion and just one point to return to Germany’s play-off promotion position.
Asia and Middle East
Several of our Socceroos strikers have contributed with goals over the past few weeks in the AFC Asian Champions League East and West teams, with Boyle’s Al-Faisaly and Maclaren’s Melbourne City now closing in on one place at direct elimination.
Saudi Arabian side Al-Faisaly looked dead and buried in their group stage match with Jordanian side Al-Wehdat after a 91st-minute goal with the scoreline coming as a major shock for Al-Faisaly, who seemed destined to dominate Group E. Yet Socceroo Martin Boyle once again became the hero, scoring a 93rd-minute equalizer for his side after a game of pinball in the air in the Al-Wehdat penalty area, which landed nicely for Boyle, who didn’t need a second invite for a half-volley of the ball past the exposed goalie.
It was a similar story for Jamie MacLaren and Australian side Melbourne City, but unfortunately in this case the roles have been reversed. A tricky affair for the defending A-League men’s champions, against Thai side Jeonnam Dragons, the clash looks destined to end scoreless, before an 89th-minute sweeping counter from Cityzens is cut back to striker Jamie Maclaren, who clinically moved the ball. to the furthest corner.
The game would end in heartache, however, with Jeonnam snatching a point in the 92nd minute, courtesy of a long-range volley from Georgian striker Nikoloz Kacharava.
Mitch Duke was among the goals in a third game in a row, this time as a provider for Fagiano Okayama teammate Yudai Tanaka, who scored the opener in a 1-1 draw at Roasso Kumamoto. Watching from his usual centre-forward position down the left wing, Duke swung a low cross towards the six-yard box, his strike partner clipping the ball past the Mumamoto keeper. The result keeps Okayama in touch with J2’s play-off positions, with 11 games already played.
A stoppage-time equalizer for away side SPAL saw top-three potential dashed for Fran Karacic and Brescia, in a match where the home side dominated throughout and looked certain to return to Italy’s automatic promotion spots. The Socceroo defender was brought in late with his 10 minutes of action coinciding with both an 84th-minute deadlock breaker and a last-minute 94th-minute header which tied the ledger.
In Turkey, Awer Mabil and Kasimpasa’s incredible run of performances continues, with a 3-0 away win over Istanbul giants Besiktas adding a sixth victory in the team’s last seven matches. The Australian winger started from the bench before being introduced in the 80th minute, helping Kasimpasa to score a third two minutes later to complete the rout.
Aziz Behich could not extend their good form, losing 2-1 to Faith Karagümrük after taking the lead just after half-time. Behich was involved in the 90 minutes and looked likely to add to his clean sheet tally, before a double punch in the 52nd and 60th minutes saw his opponents take all three points.
Based in Norway Gianni Stensness picked up their third win in Scandinavia after just a month of action, with their side Viking Fotballklubb beating Bødo/Glimt 2-0 and overtaking their title rivals in second place. Stensness played all 90 minutes in the win and may have sent compatriot Tom Rogic a message or two after the game, after taking revenge on the side that knocked Rogic’s Celtic out of the European Conference League earlier in the season.
Milos Degenek put up a stellar defensive display for MLS’s Columbus Crew, finishing with another clean sheet for the season while reversing a recent slump in form in the 0-0 draw at Sporting Kansas City.