Socceroos coach Graham Arnold made the brave decision to substitute goalkeeper and captain Mathew Ryan for Andrew Redmayne ahead of the shoot-out, but was vindicated as the 33 year-old – who danced on his line for the spot-kicks – saved the decisive penalty from Alex Valera.
Peru, 22nd in the FIFA rankings, went in as favourite but started tentatively as the Socceroos made the early running, particularly Martin Boyle who did well to beat two Peru defenders on the right in the 23rd minute before his inviting cross evaded everybody.
Ricardo Gareca's team improved in the second half, but the first shot on target did not arrive until the 81st minute via an Ajdin Hrustic free-kick that never troubled Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, who denied Hrustic two minutes from time with a sweeping shot down to his left from a low Awer Mabil cross.
La Blanquirroja came closest to winning it in extra time as substitute Edison Flores rose to win a header at the far post, but could only hit the woodwork, and so to penalties it went.
Both teams failed with one each from the first five kicks, before Mabil scored and the dancing Redmayne saved from Valera to win it for Australia, who will go into World Cup Group D when they return to Qatar in November to go up against France, Denmark and Tunisia.