Wed, Mar 30, 2016 - Page 20 News List

Socceroos spank Jordan to advance

SAMURAI BLUE HIT FIVE:In Group E, Syria advanced despite being humbled 5-0 by group winners Japan, while Afghanistan edged Singapore 2-1 in Tehran

AFP and Reuters, SYDNEY and SAITAMA, Japan

Australia’s Nathan Burns, right, shoots past Jordan’s Ehsan Manel Haddad in their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Sydney Football Stadium in Australia yesterday.

Photo: Reuters

Tim Cahill scored a brace and Robbie Kruse provided three assists as Australia trounced Jordan 5-1 to finish top of their 2018 FIFA World Cup Asian qualifying group yesterday.

The 36-year-old veteran scored twice in the first half as the Socceroos broke down Harry Redknapp-coached Jordan to win convincingly.

The win in Group B means they enter the third and final phase of Asian qualifying for the tournament in Russia.

Hangzhou-based Cahill has now scored 47 goals in 89 internationals for the Asian champions and 22 goals in 27 World Cup qualifiers.

While Cahill again topped Australia’s goalscorers, it was Germany-based Kruse who got a rousing ovation when he was substituted late in the second half after providing the final ball for three of the goals.

Australia’s other goalscorers were home-based midfielder Aaron Mooy, Celtic’s Tom Rogic and Queens Park Rangers youngster Massimo Luongo.

“It’s been two strong performances [including against Tajikistan last week] and I think people are starting to appreciate the way the boys are playing now and the belief they have in what we’re doing,” Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said. “Jordan was a dangerous opponent, they had everything to play for, yet there was never going to be anyone but us winning on the night.”

Redknapp, who was hired by Jordan’s Prince Ali to help his nation’s qualifying bid, said: “They were a different class to us, they were a much better and stronger team than we were.”

“So it was difficult, they had a bit too much quality and they looked a lot fitter than us, they were sharper... there was a big gulf in class tonight,” he said.

In Group E, war-torn Syria booked a spot in the final stages of qualifying and a berth at the 2019 Asian Cup, despite suffering a 5-0 loss to already-qualified Japan.

Syria finished second behind Japan and were assured of one of the four best runners-up spots across the eight Asian groups after Jordan’s heavy defeat.

Syria, who have never qualified for a FIFA World Cup, are one of 12 teams who are to be drawn into two groups for the third stage of qualifying, with the top two from each group qualifying for Russia in 2018.

Japan will be among the favorites to advance to a sixth consecutive World Cup finals after they went through the eight-match stage without conceding a goal.

They bossed proceedings at Saitama Stadium, but their old issues with finishing were again evident as they struggled to put away opponents ranked 123rd in the world until a late burst.

The hosts were gifted the lead in unfortunate circumstances when goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma pushed away an inswinging 18th-minute cross, but only into the face of defender Hamdi al-Massri, with the ball rebounding into an empty net.

Borussia Dortmund’s Shinji Kagawa made the game safe in the 66th minute when he took the ball on his chest, before swiveling and firing in at the near post.

Keisuke Honda nodded the third late on, before Kagawa and Genki Haraguchi further inflated the score in stoppage-time.

“It was a goal to go through qualifying with no goals against so that was satisfying, but there are still some things we need to work on,” Honda told NHK Television. “We got caught on the counter several times and stronger opponents will make us pay, so we need to be wary of that. We don’t want to be satisfied with this. All the players need to step up and improve in order for us to keep winning.”

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