Tim Cahill scored twice as Australia eased into the final round of Asian qualifying for the 2018 World Cup with a convincing 5-1 victory over Harry Redknapp’s Jordan on Tuesday.
Cahill’s 46th and 47th international goals, combined with a first half effort from the excellent Aaron Mooy and scores after the break from Tom Rogic and Massimo Luongo saw the Asian champions comfortably secure top spot in Group B.
Jordan, who had inflicted the only defeat of the campaign on the socceroos, never looked like repeating the feat and were left relying on other results to keep alive their slim hopes of progressing as one of the four best runners-up.
Australia’s victory sent Syria through with one of the runners-up spots and they both joined Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Japan, Thailand and South Korea in securing places in the 12-team third qualifying phase, from which four countries will earn tickets to Russia in 2018.
“It was good,” said Australia coach Ange Postecoglou, whose side also booked a spot at the 2019 Asian Cup.
“Against a side everyone acknowledged was a tough opponent, we were dominant from start to finish.
“We probably should have scored five or six more.”
With Cahill restored to lead the line after missing last week’s 7-0 thrashing of Tajikistan and Mooy and Robbie Kruse irresistible in midfield, the match was as good as over as a contest by halftime.
Mooy and Kruse combined to give Cahill a simple tap-in to open the scoring in the 24th minute and the trio were all involved again when Mooy went through to double the lead with a fine finish 15 minutes later.
Just before halftime, Mooy found Kruse and the winger’s cross provided Cahill with all the invitation he needed to find the net with a trademark leaping header from the middle of the penalty box.
The 25,000 fans at the Sydney Football Stadium had to wait for eight minutes after the break until Rogic resumed the scoring and substitute Luongo lashed home the fifth 20 minutes from time.
Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Redknapp kept up his urging from the sidelines until the final whistle but only a string of saves from Amer Shafi, one to deprive Cahill of a hat-trick, prevented the scoreline from blowing out further.
Substitute striker Abadallah Deeb, though, restored a modicum of pride for the Jordanians with a superb shot into the top corner in the dying minutes.
“There was a gulf in class,” said the 69-year-old Englishman.
“We stepped up a level tonight and it was difficult, they were better than us.”