Australia on Tuesday celebrated the antics of dancing goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne whose penalty shootout save against Peru saw them to a fifth straight World Cup finals.
The 33-year-old clowned his way along the goal line as Peru's players prepared to take their penalty kicks and his block of Alex Valera's shot gave Australia a 5-4 win after the two sides had been deadlocked without a goal for 120 minutes.
Australia coach Graham Arnold brought Redmayne on for team captain Mathew Ryan for the final minutes of extra time as a ploy for the shootout, AFP said.
Martin Boyle missed Australia's first penalty but the next five were all on target.
Redmayne danced and jigged along the line to unnerve the Peru players and Luis Advincula's shot cannoned off a post. Redmayne's save of Valera's shot set off wild celebrations among the Socceroos and their band of a few hundred supporters.
Arnold said that Ryan is a "fantastic goalkeeper" but Sydney FC's Redmayne "is a good penalty saver and at that stage of the game I was just trying to do something that could affect them (Peru) mentally."
"Maybe that's why they hit the post," Arnold said. "They thought they had to put it closer to the post to score. It's a risk but it worked."
Redmayne denied he was the hero of the night, saying his routine was "a little thing I do" for Sydney that has "proved quite successful".
"If I can gain one percent by making a fool of myself then I will," he said.
"I love this team, I love this country and I love this sport. I am under no illusions that all I did was to save one penalty."
- France start -Victory gave Australia the penultimate place available for the tournament that starts on November 21. They will play defending champions France in Group D one day later to start their sixth appearance at the World Cup in all.
Peru, 22nd in FIFA's list and who beat Australia 2-0 at the 2018 World Cup group stage, were roared on by 10,000 fans, most of whom had flown halfway round the globe for the playoff only to see a frustrating encounter between the rivals with few clearcut chances.
Arnold insisted that his whole team were heroes for getting through.
"What we have been through in the last year and a half with the pandemic, not being able to get back into Australia, players getting Covid, not being able to get the best squad together a lot of the time.
"I am so proud and happy for the players," said Arnold.
"The sacrifices they have made. No one thought they could do it but they kept on believing."
Peru's Argentine coach Ricardo Gareca said the whole side felt "enormous disappointment" at the way in which they were beaten but would not criticize Redmayne.
"It hurts not to make it as we were doing well in the game," added Gareca.
Peru's red and white army of supporters gave the conservative Gulf state a taste of what they can expect in November when some 1.4 million visitors are predicted to come to town. Their distinctive red and white shirts dominated the streets.
For more than two hours the fans chanted "Come on Peruvians, tonight we must win." Most of the team were left in tears of disbelief after the defeat.
The final place for the finals will be decided on Tuesday when Oceania champions New Zealand take on Costa Rica who were in the central and north American qualifying contest.