Socceroos eye Brazil after 4-0 romp

Lucas Neill scored 84 minutes into the match. Photo: Justin McManusIt’s not a done deal just yet but Australia is on track to qualify for a third straight World Cup after demolishing Jordan 4-0 at Etihad Stadium on Tuesday night.

In arguably their best performance in many years, the Socceroos barely gave Jordan a chance to settle with a strong first half before pounding home three second-half goals.

With one match to play, Australia has its destiny in its own hands. Should the Australians defeat Iraq next Tuesday at ANZ Stadium, they will be assured of their place at the world’s biggest event.

An early strike by Mark Bresciano put the Socceroos on their way after 15 minutes and the veteran put in a man-of-the-match display from midfield.

Another of the old guard, Tim Cahill, put Australia clear after 61 minutes when he headed home Robbie Kruse’s cross.

Kruse then completed an outstanding personal night when he collected the ball on the edge of the box before turning and firing home to put an exclamation mark on the occasion.

When Lucas Neill scored in the 84th minute – his first goal in international soccer – it was party time for the Socceroos and the crowd of 43,785.

Depending on results elsewhere, Australia may only need a draw against Iraq to seal its place in Brazil.

As expected, the Socceroos went in with an unchanged line-up from the 1-1 draw against Japan last week in Saitama.

Having been beaten 2-1 in the corresponding game in Amman last year, the onus was on the Socceroos to square the ledger.

Australia looked to control the tempo early and seemed content to knock the ball around in the midfield and only occasionally resort to the longer balls so frequently used last week.

Despite Saeed Murjan forcing an early save from Mark Schwarzer, the action was about to take place at the other end.

After back-to-back chances for Brett Holman and Bresciano in the 14th minute, less then 60 seconds later, Australia had its reward.

Luke Wilkshire exchanged passes with Kruse, who raced into space down the right and while the Jordanian players stopped for a foul, the referee paid advantage, giving Kruse all the time he needed to pick his pass.

He spotted the oncoming Bresciano, and the Melburnian seized his moment as the home-town hero, nailing this effort right on target.

The Socceroos were now brimming with confidence and they put together more chances towards half-time as the visitors’ confidence began to fray – evidenced by Khalil Bani Attiah’s hacking of Kruse, earning him a yellow card.

The Socceroos then looked keen to double their advantage early in the second stanza and were clearly motivated to finish the job in style.

Chances fell to Wilkshire from a set-piece and the excellent Mark Milligan from the resulting corner, but neither were converted, leaving a sliver of hope for Adnan Hamad’s team.

When Adnan Adous skipped through and hit the ball across goal, hearts were in mouths, but the Socceroos held firm.

It was then that they completely cut loose.

Barely seconds after coming on, Archie Thompson linked with Holman, who set Kruse away down the right and his cross was crisply headed past the keeper by Cahill.

Kruse then added a touch of class as he skinned Mohammad Mustafa before slamming his shot past the hapless Amer Shafi.

Australia’s night was made perfect when Neill nodded his close-range header home, leading to the embarrassing substitution of goalkeeper Shafi, who ran straight down the tunnel to the jeers of a delighted crowd.

The original release of this article first appeared on the website of Hangzhou Night Net.

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