Soccer-Australia coach sends youngsters back to the gym after Ecuador loss

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 - Round of 16 - Argentina v Australia - Ahmad bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan, Qatar - December 3, 2022 Australia coach Graham Arnold after the match as Australia are eliminated from the World Cup REUTERS/Molly Darlington

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia coach Graham Arnold said his youthful team were taught a valuable lesson after being outmuscled by Ecuador in a 2-1 friendly loss in Melbourne.

The Socceroos beat the South Americans 3-1 in the first match of the double-header in Sydney last week but two second-half goals from the visitors at Docklands Stadium on Tuesday put paid to their hopes of sweeping the series.

"If there's one big lesson we learned tonight for the young boys was the physicality of the game, and the speed," Arnold told reporters.

"One of the best things was how strong they were and how well they held the ball up when they needed to, and we couldn’t manhandle them.

"The boys will go away with a great lesson that they have to work harder in the gym, they've got to work harder on the pitch, they've got to work hard playing those type of games."

Arnold made seven changes to his starting line-up from the first match and Brandon Borrello gave Australia a fine start with his first international goal after 16 minutes.

The majority of the 27,103 crowd were silenced early in the second half, though, when Ecuador captain Pervis Estupinan sent debutant goalkeeper Joe Gauci the wrong way from the penalty spot to equalise.

William Pacho scored the winner to mark a memorable senior debut for Ecuador, leaping over the defence to angle his header in after 65 minutes.

"These types of things are great learning experiences for the players," Arnold added.

"We could have played a weaker team and won 6-0, 5-0. But would we have learned?"

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford)

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