Australia coach Pim Verbeek lashed stars Vince Grella and Tim Cahill for reckless tackles after his side snatched a last-gasp 2-1 win over rivals New Zealand in a World Cup warm-up Monday.


Verbeek said the experienced pair would have been red-carded if it had been in the World Cup for their tackles which forced Kiwi Leo Bertos to be stretchered off with a shin injury.

The Australians won a fiercely contested friendly with a goal from substitute Brett Holman in the final seconds to give the Socceroos a winning lead-up to next month’s World Cup in South Africa.

But blunt-talking Dutchman Verbeek didn’t hold back on the ugly tackles dished out by the two English Premier League stars, saying they were unacceptable, and praised New Zealand’s composure in not seeking retribution.

Verbeek: They were red-card challenges

“In the World Cup that’s probably two red cards. So it’s a good lesson because I cannot accept this and the players also know that this is not the way they should play the game like this,” Verbeek said.

“You cannot afford to go into any game and make tackles like that. I cannot find any reason why they should do it.

“I am going to tell them that it is unacceptable for the rest of the team. If only to protect them because if I was on the other side I would be a little bit angry, so you could expect something back and that’s what they deserved.

“I think you can only compliment New Zealand that they behaved themselves. They were very professional, my players were not.”

Sour note on win

The scything tackles put a sour note on Australia’s undeserved win over the gutsy New Zealanders, who are preparing for their first World Cup appearance in 28 years.

New Zealand, playing Australia for the first time in five years, took the lead at Melbourne Cricket Ground after a 16th-minute strike by Middlesbrough’s Chris Killen.

The Socceroos, ranked 58 places above the Kiwis in the FIFA rankings, equalised in the 57th minute through Dario Vidosic and the game looked set to finish in a stalemate before Holman’s late intervention.

Holman, who plays his club football in the Netherlands, latched on to a lob from Carl Valeri to beat All Whites goalkeeper Mark Paston with the last kick of the match.

We didn’t deserve it: Verbeek

Verbeek said Australia did not deserve to win.

“I think 1-1 was more than enough, I didn’t expect anything more than 1-1 in the last 10-15 minutes,” he said.

American referee Ricardo Salazar handed out five yellow cards, four to the Australians, who face Germany in their tournament opener in Durban on June 13, while New Zealand take on Slovakia first up in Rustenburg on June 15.

The All Whites had the better first-half chances and rocked the Socceroos when Killen got to Shane Smeltz’s headed flick first to beat Adam Federici on his international debut in the 16th minute.

The Australians lost their cool and had three yellow cards in seven minutes with defensive midfielder Grella fortunate not to be sent off for his lunging two-footed tackle on Bertos.

Bertos had to be carried off with a gashed right leg when he was felled again, this time by Cahill.

Australia equalised after Jason Culina’s pass was deflected by Killen into the path of Vidosic, who beat Paston from a sharp angle.

Verbeek mothballed first-choice stars Luke Wilkshire, Brett Emerton, Scott Chipperfield and Josh Kennedy, while goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer and Harry Kewell were not considered because of injuries.