Australia got a welcome boost before they restart their World Cup qualifying campaign when a Tim Cahill header put them on course for a 3-0 victory over Lebanon in an international friendly on Thursday.
The Beirut victory was the first in five matches for the Socceroos, who need a win against Jordan in Amman on Tuesday next week to keep Asian champions Japan in sight at the top of Group B in the fourth round of Asian qualifying.
The Japanese are threatening to run away with the group after taking seven points from their first three matches, five clear of Australia and Iraq, who both drew their opening two encounters.
Australia ignored the disruption of the floodlight failure which stopped the game for five minutes in the first half to claim their first win since they beat Saudi Arabia in February.
Cahill, who missed the 3-1 friendly defeat to Scotland last month, got them off the mark by leaping above his marker to head home his 25th international goal in the 19th minute.
“It was important that we started strongly and we did that,” goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer, who in the match became the first Australian to win 100 international caps, told Fox TV.
Midfielder Matt McKay doubled the lead with his first international goal four minutes later when his shot hit the Lebanon goalkeeper and looped into the net.
Substitute Archie Thompson rounded out the victory with his left foot after a defensive mistake two minutes from time to give Holger Osieck’s men the best possible preparation for their match against Jordan.
Schwarzer, who had little to do in his hundredth match for his country, said securing a third successive appearance at the World Cup finals for him and his country by finishing in the top-two of their group was more important than such milestones.
“A hundred caps is nice, but I want to qualify for the World Cup,” the 39-year-old said.