Australia qualify for the last 16 of the World Cup as Kye Rowles set for Hearts history books

Hearts’ World Cup continent will stay on at Qatar after Australia qualified for the last 16 with a stunning 1-0 win over Denmark in their final group game.

Mathew Leckie’s goal on the hour mark was enough to separate the sides as Graham Arnold’s men took full advantage of a lacklustre showing from the pre-tournament dark horses to reach the next stage alongside group winners France, who needed a late goal to draw with Tunisia.

Kye Rowles played the full 90 minutes for the third game in succession. Cammy Devlin was once again an unused substitute while Nathaniel Atkinson continues to be troubled by an ankle problem sustained in the opening match defeat to France.

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It means Rowles is likely to be the first ever Hearts player to play in the knockout stages of a World Cup.

The Australia squad rush to celebrate after Mathew Leckie puts the Socceroos 1-0 up against Denmark in the final World Cup group-stage encounter. Picture: Getty

It also means an extra boost to Hearts’ coffers with the Tynecastle club receiving £8,700 for each player for every game they play at the tournament. These fees run up until the day after a team is eliminated from the tournament.

Australia will be playing their last 16 encounter on Saturday evening against the winners of Group C.

Rowles excelled in the centre of defence alongside Harry Souttar, the Scots-born defender and brother of ex-Hearts star John. The pair have been instrumental in Australia registering back-to-back clean sheets at the World Cup for the first time.

The rest of Robbie Neilson’s squad watched the match from the team’s winter training camp in Malaga after flying out on Wednesday morning.

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