Scottish-born striker Martin Boyle is quickly endearing himself to Australian football lovers, after starring in his first Socceroos start, as Tim Cahill made a final international cameo in the 3-0 win over Lebanon on Tuesday.
With coach Graham Arnold looking to finalise his squad for the Asian Cup finals in the United Arab Emirates in under two months’ time, Boyle pressed his case in compelling fashion.
Boyle, whose father was born in Sydney, provided an assist for a last-gasp equaliser against South Korea last Saturday and bagged a first-half double at ANZ Stadium and an assist after the break.
Cahill won his 108th and final cap, coming on in the 82nd minute to the delight of many of the 33,268 patrons.
He was handed the captain’s armband a few minutes later when leader for the night Trent Sainsbury was substituted.
Cahill was given a 10-minute stint to see off his Socceroos career and some fans weren’t happy with the lack of time on a night dedicated to him.
30,000 people rocked up to see Tim Cahill play, and unfortunately Arnold totally misread the situation by giving him a few minutes at the end. Three touches actually a sad way to go out, given the anticipation. #ausleb #cahill
— Matt Connellan (@MattConnellan) November 20, 2018
— Brett Sprigg (@BrettSprigg) November 20, 2018
Really, I came out here to see Tim Cahill for 10 minutes?
— LadiesWhoLegspin (@LadiesWhoLeague) November 20, 2018
Cahill couldn’t score a 51st international goal, though on one occasion an inviting cross looked destined to find his head, before Lebanon defender Kassem Al Zein spoilt the moment by getting a glancing touch which flicked the ball away from the Socceroos veteran.
Australia dominated against a side ranked 82nd, 40 places below them in the world rankings.
While Cahill’s international career came to an end, the most influential player on the night, was Boyle whose Socceroos journey has only just started.
His first in the 19th minute was a trifle fortunate, as his shot following an enterprising run deflected off Lebanon’s Joan Oumari.
Boyle’s second in the 41st minute was a simple two-metre tap in after Milos Degenek’s header from an Aaron Mooy corner thudded against the crossbar.
Even before his first score, the 25-year-old Hibernian winger looked Australia’s most likely source of a goal.
He had a fourth minute shot saved by goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil and sent another attempt wide three minutes later, while Tomi Juric also went close a couple of times.
Boyle turned provider in the 68th minute when his right wing cross was swept home emphatically by substitute Mathew Leckie, two minutes after coming on.
Boyle was one of seven changes Arnold made to the side that started Saturday’s game.
Sydney FC right back Grant became the 600th capped Socceroo when awarded his debut and Milos Degenek was brought into the centre of defence.
Mustafa Amini and Jackson Irvine were called into the midfield and Boyle, Juric and Awer Mabil provided a new a strikeforce.
Jimmy Jeggo made his Socceroos debut off the bench late in the game.