Australia made sure of their place in the third stage of Asia's 2022 World Cup qualifying format with a routine 3-0 victory over 10-man Nepal.

After resounding wins over hosts Kuwait and Chinese Taipai, boss Graham Arnold again rung the changes at Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium but it made little difference to the outcome.

Mathew Leckie, captain for the night, gave the Socceroos an early advantage and Fran Karacic's maiden international goal had doubled the lead by the time Rohit Chand was sent off for a professional foul on Martin Boyle before half-time.

Boyle completed the scoring, with a seventh consecutive win to wrap up top spot in Group B long beyond doubt before then.

It took Leckie only six minutes to find the breakthrough, meeting left-back Aziz Behich's cross with a powerful header.

Karacic enjoyed a moment to savour in the 38th minute after Leckie skipped past a desperate lunge from Suman Aryal and picked out the Brescia right-back to slot home.

Leckie was involved again shortly afterwards as Nepal's evening took another sour turn, releasing Boyle to be unceremoniously brought down by Chand, who gave the referee little option.

Boyle looked set to experience personal disappointment when he botched a free header early in the second half before slicing into the side netting. But a sublime curling cross from Hibernian team-mate Jackson Irvine in the 57th minute allowed the 28-year-old to tap in from close range.

Mitch Duke scored twice as Australia closed in on a place in the third stage of World Cup qualifying with a 5-1 hammering of Chinese Taipei on Monday.

The Socceroos made it six wins out of six and within one victory of a guaranteed spot in the third phase of Asian qualifying at Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium in Kuwait, outclassing the team propping up Group B without a point to their name.

Harry Souttar and Jamie Maclaren each scored their fifth goals of the qualifying campaign and Trent Sainsbury added a third in the first half, with Duke claiming a second-half double either side of Gao Wei-Jie's surprise goal for Chinese Taipei.

Head coach Graham Arnold called on Australia to be more clinical after a 3-0 win over Kuwait and gave a completely different side the opportunity to capitalise on Chinese Taipei's defensive frailties.

Souttar opened the scoring by heading home Riley McGree's corner 11 minutes in and A-League Golden Boot winner Maclaren got in on the act from the penalty spot after he was upended by Chen Wei-chuan.

Sainsbury got on the end of another McGree corner to head in a third Australia goal late in a first half which also saw Brandon Borrello rattle the post from close range.

Borrello provided the cross for Duke to nod home 20 seconds into the second half before Gao scored only Chinese Taipei's third goal from seven group games with a clinical finish.

Duke had the final say, tucking into an empty net after being set up by Nikita Rukavytsya six minutes from time.

Australia moved five points clear at the top of their World Cup qualifying group with a 3-0 victory over Kuwait.

Matthew Leckie scored his third goal in three Socceroos appearances to put them ahead after just a minute had been played, the striker nodding home Martin Boyle's cross.

Boyle had the chance to double the lead after Bandar Al Salama brought down James Holland in the box, and although his penalty was saved, Jackson Irvine was on hand to convert the rebound.

Boyle sent a shot narrowly wide and Aziz Behich fizzed an effort inches past the right-hand post as Australia ended the half with 15 shots to Kuwait's three.

Mat Ryan had to be alert to keep out Shabaib Al-Khaldi's strike at the near post just past the hour mark, but Australia made the three points safe four minutes later, Ajdin Hrustic's free-kick bamboozling goalkeeper Sulaiman Abdulghafoor and going in off the right-hand post.

Hrustic's first goal for his country – the first direct free-kick scored by a Socceroo since Mile Jedinak in November 2017 – took Graham Arnold's side to 19 goals scored in their past five matches.

Arnold was able to offer game time to three debutants, with Fran Karacic starting at right-back and both Kenneth Dougall and Riley McGree coming off the bench in the second half, while Chris Ikonomidis made his first appearance since recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

Australia sit five points ahead of Kuwait and Jordan in Group B, having won all five of their opening matches.

Australia have named seven new faces in their 31-man squad for four World Cup qualifiers in June, but there is no place for established stars Aaron Mooy and Tom Rogic.

Overseas-based players Riley McGree, Fran Karacic, Kenneth Dougall and Lawrence Thomas are joined by uncapped A-League trio Denis Genreau, Connor Metcalfe and Ruon Tongyik for the matches against Kuwait, Chinese Taipei, Nepal, and Jordan.

The Socceroos, who have not played since a 1-0 away win over Jordan in November 2019 due to the coronavirus pandemic, are top of their qualifying group with maximum points after four games.

The absence of Mooy and Rogic raised eyebrows, with head coach Graham Arnold explaining that challenges posed by the pandemic and personal circumstances had led to some players being left out.  

"We've selected a balanced squad that combines youth and experience, but also one that rewards players for their outstanding performances at their clubs over the past six to 12 months," Arnold told the Socceroos' official website.

"I have said many times that I believe the strength of the Socceroos is through its young players. Along with my staff, I can't wait to work with the many fresh faces in this squad as we continue to build the depth of the national team.

"Equally so, we are excited to work with the experienced and senior players we will have with us, as together we strive to advance to the next round of qualifying with eight wins on our record.

"Our extended 31-player squad will provide us with the flexibility and adaptability we will need given we will play four matches in 12 days, and the acclimatisation and preparation period that half of our squad will have here in the UAE will be crucial ahead of the first two games in Kuwait.

"It is no secret that we had originally targeted to name this squad last week. However, some challenges with COVID, as well as some injuries and personal circumstances, have meant some players were ruled out of the final reckoning.

"We have communicated at length with those players and will continue to support them individually as they strive to return to the Socceroos later in the year."

 

Australia squad in full:

Andrew Redmayne (Sydney FC), Mathew Ryan (Arsenal), Danny Vukovic (unattached), Lawrence Thomas (SonderjyskE); Aziz Behich (Kayserispor), Milos Degenek (Crvena Zvezda), Curtis Good (Melbourne City), Rhyan Grant (Sydney FC), Fran Karacic (Brescia), Ryan McGowan (Sydney FC),Trent Sainsbury (Kortrijk), Brad Smith (Seattle Sounders), Harry Souttar (Stoke City), Ruon Tongyik (Central Coast Mariners); Brandon Borrello (Fortuna Dusseldorf), Martin Boyle (Hibernian), Kenneth Dougall (Blackpool), Denis Genreau (Macarthur), James Holland (LASK), Ajdin Hrustic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Chris Ikonomidis (Perth Glory), Jackson Irvine (Hibernian), Mathew Leckie (Hertha Berlin), Awer Mabil (Midtjylland), Riley McGree (Birmingham City), Connor Metcalfe (Melbourne City), Nikita Rukavytsya (Maccabi Haifa); Mitchell Duke (Western Sydney Wanderers), Apostolos Giannou (OFI), Jamie Maclaren (Melbourne City), Adam Taggart (Cerezo Osaka).

Japan thumped Mongolia 14-0 at the Fukuda Denshi Arena on Tuesday to close in on the third round of Asia's qualifying tournament for the 2022 World Cup finals.

The win was Japan's second-biggest ever, behind their 15-0 thrashing of the Philippines in 1967, and leaves them needing victory against Myanmar in June to advance to the next phase.

Liverpool forward Takumi Minamino, who has spent the second half of the campaign on loan with Southampton, opened the scoring after 13 minutes before Werder Bremen's Yuya Osako scored the first of his three goals.

Daichi Kamada and Hidemasa Morita added their names to the scoresheet and Khash-Erdene Tuya put into his own net before half-time in the one-sided affair, which was played behind closed doors in Japan due to quarantine restrictions in Mongolia.

Osako's second goal arrived 10 minutes into the second half and substitute Sho Inagaki hit the designated away side's seventh with 68 minutes on the clock.

Kyogo Furuhashi and Junya Ito then added two more apiece, with the latter also setting up three of his side's goals.

The final three goals arrived in added time, with Inagaki completing the drubbing against a side ranked 190th in the world following a quickfire double from Takuma Asano and Osako.

 

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