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The Socceroos have got back on track on their Road to Russia after a comprehensive 3-0 win over Kyrgyzstan in their FIFA World Cup 2018 qualifier at GIO Stadium on Thursday night.
In front of just under 20,000 fans in Canberra, the Aussies cantered to victory thanks to skipper Mile Jedinak’s 40th-minute penalty and second-half goals via Tim Cahill and Ildar Amirov’s own goal.
The emphatic victory sees the Socceroos close the gap on group leaders Jordan to just one point, ahead of next week’s clash with Bangladesh.
Much to the delight of the home fans, Canberra boy Tom Rogic came off the bench for a 30-minute cameo as the green and gold bounced back from last month’s shock loss to Jordan with a bang.
The only concern for coach Ange Postecoglou are injuries to attackers Tomi Juric and Nathan Burns which could rule them out of Tuesday’s game in Dhaka.
Bradford City’s James Meredith made his debut at left-back in a surprising 4-4-2 formation with Juric and Cahill in a two-pronged strikeforce.
And it was Cahill that almost gave the Socceroos a dream start inside two minutes.
Jedinak surged forward down the left and his cross took a deflection before finding Cahill, his acrobatic volley superbly saved by Pavel Matiash.
The visitors were content to sit back and absorb the pressure, allowing the Socceroos a mountain of possession – more than 70 percent for the first half.
So it was only a matter of time before they carved out another opening and again Cahill was inches away from getting it.
After Aaron Mooy was denied by another smart save by Matiash, the loose ball fell to Cahill but his curling left-foot strike hit the post and not the back of the net.
An injury to Juric saw Burns introduced before the half hour mark and his injection of pace and trickery gave a new dimension to the Socceroos attack.
Mark Milligan somehow squandered a certain goal seven minutes from the break, failing to connect with a simple tap-in from close range after Matiash spilled Burns initial effort.
Luckily for the midfielder, his blushes were spared a minute later.
The Socceroos won a penalty after Burns was clattered into in the box, Jedinak emphatically dispatching it into the corner for a 1-0 lead at the break.
Intent not to give the visitors a sniff, the Socceroos doubled their lead less than five minutes after the resumption with Cahill bagging his 42nd international goal.
Mooy split open the defence with a perfectly-weighted through ball and the evergreen talisman did the rest before wheeling off to the corner flag for his trademark goal celebration.
Hometown hero Rogic received a huge ovation as he came on for the last half hour, replacing a tiring Jedinak.
The Canberra faithful had more reason to cheer soon after as Mooy’s corner was diverted into his own net by Amirov to give the scoreline a much truer reflection.
And it would have been a whole lot more if not from some wasteful late finishing and some fine saves from the exceptional Matiash.
Australia 3 (Jedinak 40’, Cahill 50’, Amirov (og) 69’)
Crowd: 19,412 @ GIO Stadium