A 2-0 win over Argentina! Is that Arnie’s best result ever?

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Maybe Australia would have won the Copa America after all? It feels like the sky is the limit after the Olyroos shocked the football world by beating Argentina 2-0 at the Tokyo Olympics.

Was that the best performance Graham Arnold ever put in as head coach of a national team? The gruff tactician silenced his critics – for at least one night – when the Olyroos put in a stellar performance taking down Argentina 2-0 under the roof of the Sapporo Dome.

The best thing about the result was the fact that it wasn’t a smash and grab raid. Australia had already created a few chances before Lachie Wales saved a cross from Joel King.

And Wales, who was originally named in the train-on roster and never expected to actually play in Japan, was just one of many players who delivered an absolute stormer in Sapporo.

The Olyroos haven’t been to the Olympics since Beijing in 2008, which is perhaps why they ran out of the blocks and put Argentina behind them from the start.

Daniel Arzani looked like the biggest threat at first, but it was King who broke open the game when the Sydney FC defender took a good free kick from Harry Souttar and crossed over to Wales to reach the far post.

Daniel Arzani (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

The towering Souttar was immense alongside skipper Tommy Deng in central defence, as King and Nathaniel Atkinson buzzed relentlessly up and down their respective sidelines as Australia’s four backs delivered a Herculean feat.

They were lucky as a cross from Ezequiel Barco caught goalkeeper Tom Glover by surprise and broke the top of the bar, but what really changed the momentum of the game was the dismissal of Francisco Ortega just before half-time.

Referee Srdjan Jovanovic had his work cut out for him in a match that saw a staggering 12 yellow cards, but the Serb will be raked over the coals for his decision to send Ortega off the field in first half stoppage time.

The defender was rightly shown a yellow card for a foul on Atkinson at the corner flag when 45 minutes had already passed. But just as the free kick was about to swing in, Argentine goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma appeared to push Ortega right into Riley McGree.

The Australian midfielder, who was barely touched in the incident, let alone the instigator, was rightly given a yellow card from Jovanovic. Yet the Serbian referee then waved the yellow card in the direction of Ortega, only then seemed to realize that he had booked the defender just 60 seconds earlier.

It was an obvious mistake – and the Olyroos have benefited immensely from that.

But even if the Aussies were lucky enough to face ten men for the entire second half, they still managed to kill the game.

One of the best things about last night’s performance was the sheer number of chances the Olyroos created. It was a standard of attacking football that we haven’t seen from the Australian side in years.

The inclusion of Mitch Duke looks like an absolute masterstroke from Arnold, after the squad’s lone overage player made a tireless shift up front.

Duke might have misjudged Wales’ attempt to open the scoring, but he recruited two defenders and then put substitute Marco Tilio on the line to score Australia’s second goal.

Duke also cut the woodwork twice, while Riley McGree and the surprisingly effective Wales also created some good chances.

If there was one downside to the night, it was Arzani’s shape. The left winger looked good from the start, but too often the perpetually loaned attacker seemed to doubt himself.

But that’s a minor complaint.

The Olyroos are at the top of Group C, staring down at heavyweights Spain, who they will meet at the Sapporo Dome on Sunday night.

Graham Arnold’s men have made us all dream again.

After a magical night with so many A-League players getting up and running, the Olyroos just reminded us that maybe football in Australia isn’t so bad after all.

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