Leckie returned to the Socceroos after missing the group stage games with a hamstring injury and joined the action against Uzbekistan after the hour mark.

But with the game at a dour stalemate and neither side capable of finding a breakthrough goal, the game went to extra time and then penalties.

Leckie was only scheduled to play for 30 minutes as he eased back into action after his lay-off – and he admitted he was running on empty in extra time.

But he found the energy and kept his cool to smash home Australia's final spot kick and claim the honours.

After the match he revealed how he'd watched the Uzbek keeper react to the earlier kicks and then exploited it.

"I watched the few penalties that were taken before and the keeper stood really long on his spot," Leckie revealed.

"I wanted to make sure if I hit it hard that way if I got it in the corner, he wouldn't have had a chance.

"And to be fair, of all the penalties I've taken in my life, even in training, I've never hit it that good! I think it was meant to be."

But he added: "The hero of today is Matty Ryan.

"He's saved two unbelievable penalties - the first one, to stand that strong and to hold his hand...

"I just had to finish it off but he's the real hero."

Now he's focusing on his recovery from this prolonged spell of gametime to recover ahead of Saturday's clash with either UAE or Kyrgyzstan at 3am Sydney time.

"We've worked super hard and done everything I can to get me back and today it was a question mark for the quarter finals if we made it," he admitted. "But I felt good today.

"It's always difficult, the fitness and games. Fitness in training and fitness is two different things, but hopefully I can work hard, recover and contribute again."