The Socceroos attack is starting to click under coach Graham Arnold after they thrashed Nepal 5-0, but they quit their World Cup qualifier frustrated on Thursday night. Australia had all the possession and territory, creating countless chances but struggled to complete against the team ranked 161 in the world.
The Socceroos were never challenged and dominated from begin to finish contrary to the Group B minnows as Jamie Maclaren scored his first international hat-trick. Maclaren had scored just one goal in 13 appearances leading into the game but showed his class in front of 18, 563 fans in Canberra.
Australia opened the scoring with a set-piece move on six minutes when Aaron Mooy found Craig Goodwin and his low drive could not be contained before Maclaren fired in the blocked shot.
The second goal arrived when Aziz Behich crossed for Ryhan Grant who headed back across the face of goal for Maclaren to score from point-blank range on 19 minutes. Harry Souttar then made it three as the 198cm defender scored on debut after heading in a well-hit Goodwin corner.
It should have been 4-0 on the stroke of half-time when Mathew Leckie scored a deflected goal that was incorrectly ruled offside by the linesman. Goodwin looked certain to score his first international goal in the second half but his back-post header was denied sharply by goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong.
Souttar celebrated a brace when he headed home on 59 minutes but the shot took a deflection and it officially went down as an own goal to Dinesh Rajbanshi. And Maclaren completed his hat-trick in the 90th minute after collecting the ball from Irvine’s chest inside the box and finishing sharply.
The Socceroos have begun their road to Qatar 2022 with two strong wins and now face Taiwan away on Tuesday before players return to their clubs.