The Subway Young Socceroos have advanced to the quarter finals of the AFC U-20 Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2023™ following a 9-1 rout of Qatar U-20 at the JAR Stadium on Tuesday night (AEDT).
An own goal, a Bernardo brace and close-range finishes from Chris Donnell, Raphael Rodrigues, Jonny Yull, Gabriel Popovic, Archie Goodwin and Alex Badolato overturned the initial deficit in what was a rampant display.
Trevor Morgan's side is now just one win away from a spot in the FIFA U-20 World Cup Indonesia 2023™ and will face the winner of Group A in the last eight on Sunday morning (AEDT) at the Milliy Stadium.
Despite being level on points with IR Iran (six) and boasting a superior goal difference, Australia finished as runners-up due to the third tournament tie-breaker - goals scored in head-to-head matches among tied teams - after Iran beat Vietnam 3-1.
It was a far from ideal start for the Aussies, falling behind in the second minute when Nectarios Triantis' under-hit back pass to goalkeeper Jack Warshawsky was intercepted by Moustafa Asar and he took full advantage.
However, not perturbed Australia began to immediately dictate terms and retain possession in advanced areas.
And in the 13th minute, the Aussies equalised when Hassan Mohammed Alghareeb inadvertently turned in Rodrigues' cross.
After creating a couple of decent chances, the Young Socceroos would take the lead. Alessandro Lopane's strike from the edge of the box, following a half-cleared corner, was parried into the path of Donnell and he kept his composure to finish off the rebound.
Bernardo then squared a pass to Rodrigues for a tap-in at the back post as the two wingers combined.
The Adelaide United winger then made it 4-1 on 39 minutes after being quickest to react from Popovic's saved shot before bagging his second in the 67th minute after substitute Jed Drew slipped through the 18-year-old, who nonchalantly rounded the 'keeper.
It was a goal that arrived after a decent spell of pressure from Qatar, but from there the floodgates well and truly opened as Yull - one of three changes along with Badolato and Drew in the 52nd minute - made it 6-1 into a largely vacant net from Popovic's pass.
Popovic had a penalty saved but a minute later tapped in Goodwin's flick from the corner, before the Newcastle Jets forward got on the score sheet himself courtesy of a through ball from Badolato.
In keeping with a similar theme where the provider would subsequently go on to score, Badolato did just that with a clinical effort after Drew's second assist.
The result is the Subway Young Socceroos' biggest win at this level and will hope it can continue the momentum into the knockout stages.
Head Coach Trevor Morgan offered his thoughts following the convincing victory in the post-match press conference.
"They're still young players right so they're learning," he told reporters.
"Maybe losing on the first day (first game) can do your confidence the other way
"We tried to balance ourselves on both. Obviously you have to keep winning in this tournament anyway, so following on from this the next match - you don't have a choice, you have to win.
"But for sure, progressing is an important step for us at the moment."
Qatar U-20: 1 (Moustafa 2')
Australia U-20: 9 (Alghareeb OG 13', Donnell 22', Rodrigues 25', Bernardo 39', 67', Yull 76', Popovic 79', Goodwin 90', Badolato 90+2')
Tournament: AFC Asian Cup Uzbekistan 2023 - Group B
Date: Tuesday, 7 March
Venue: JAR Stadium, Tashkent
Kick-off: 9:00pm AEDT
Broadcast: Live and Free on 10 Play
Referee: Muhammad Nazmi Nasaruddin (MAS)
Assistant Referees: Mohamad Zairul Bin Khalil Tan (MAS), Yosuke Takebe (JPN)
Fourth Official: Zaid Thamer Mohammed (IRQ)
Australia U-20 XI: 1. Jack Warshawsky (GK), 2. Joshua Rawlins (C), 3. Nectarios Triantis (14. Kaelan Majekodunmi 75'), 4. Chris Donnell, 7. Bernardo (19. Archie Goodwin 75'), 8. Alessandro Lopane (23. Jonny Yull 52'), 9. Gabriel Popovic, 10. Adrian Segecic (20. Alex Badolato 52'), 11. Raphael Rodrigues (21. Jed Drew 52'), 13. Panashe Madanha, 15. Joseph Forde
Substitutes not used: 5. Matthew Dench, 6. Rhys Bozinovski, 12. James Nieuwenhuizen (GK), 16. Jake Girdwood-Reich, 17 Aidan Simmons, 18. Alexander Robinson (GK), 22. Jing Reec
Yellow Card: Badolato 60'