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Craig Goodwin blitz sends Socceroos a step closer to World Cup qualification

The winger starred in the Socceroos' 5-0 demolition of Lebanon.

Craig Goodwin has reaffirmed his status as one of the Socceroos' most potent attacking weapons, with two goals and two assists in Australia's 5-0 win over Lebanon on Tuesday night. The winger's sensational performance helped send Australia through to the final round of World Cup qualification with two games in hand.

The victory will be one to remember for young guns Kusini Yengi and John Iredale, after netting their first international goals in what was a comfortable victory in front of a record-breaking crowd of 25,023 at Canberra's GIO Stadium – the most ever for a football match in the nation’s capital. The victory means the Socceroos have officially booked their place in the next phase of Asian World Cup qualification.

Craig Goodwin starred for the Socceroos in their 5-0 win over Lebanon. Image: Getty
Craig Goodwin starred for the Socceroos in their 5-0 win over Lebanon. Image: Getty

It has been an impressive World Cup qualifying campaign to date for Australia, with four wins from four, without a goal conceded across the 360 minutes of football. And coach Graham Arnold said Goodwin's increased leadership has been instrumental in the side's recent success.

Goodwin's craftiness saw him set up Yengi inside two minutes and create the havoc that led to an own goal early in the second half. He then scored a marvellous dipping volley under a minute later to put the team 3-0 up. From there he brought up his double to make it four before Australia scored again late to complete a 5-0 rout.

"When I knew Craig Goodwin younger, he didn't believe in himself like he does these days," Arnold said. "He's a top quality player but he's a fantastic person and a great leader and in and around the dressing room and on the pitch ... but his delivery of set pieces is fantastic. The conversation we had after the Asian Cup was pretty much you only have a short career in life, don't throw it away now ... players have limited time for their careers, and I think he's in his prime." Goodwin's performance also drew plenty of praise from football fans online, many wondering how he never earned a big money move to Europe.

Graham Arnold says Socceroos must develop killer instinct

While Arnold was happy with the 5-0 drubbing of Lebanon, he insists work is still to be done to develop more of a killer instinct. "A great start, we get the goal early and should have been up three or 4-0 at half-time," he said.

"This is stuff I've been driving with the boys about raising our standards and when I say that, it's about taking those opportunities to kill teams off, not letting them stay in the game. After the first game it was all about the lack of penetration in behind and so that's what we worked on ... it's about if a player is on the ball, you don't stand still, you move and make forward runs and penetrate."

Graham Arnold believes Ali Tneich should have seen red for tackle on Ajdin Hrustic

The Socceroos coach says Lebanese midfielder Ali Tneich should have been sent off for his "horrible" tackle on Aussie playmaker Ajdin Hrustic. The tackle left Hrustic in tears and in need of being helped off the field with an ankle injury.

Having come off the bench in last week’s 2-0 win over Lebanon, after missing the Socceroos' previous 11 matches due to a lack of club football, the midfielder was a starter on Tuesday night. His creativity was on display from the outset, with a superb assist for Goodwin’s first goal.

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But shortly after he was left in agony after being caught by a studs-up tackle from Tneich that saw him forced out of the game. Tneich was only shown yellow for the reckless tackle but Arnold believes if VAR was in operation it would have without a doubt been upgraded to red.

"It was a pretty horrible tackle when you look at it back," Arnold said. But in positive news, Arnold says he was "hobbling around" on the ankle in a dressing room and was hopeful that no serious damage was done.

Lebanon's Ali Tneich (C) reacts after being given a yellow card by the referee during the FIFA World Cup 2026 qualifier football match between Australia and Lebanon at Bruce Stadium in Canberra on March 26, 2024. (Photo by DAVID GRAY / AFP) / -- IMAGE RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE - STRICTLY NO COMMERCIAL USE -- (Photo by DAVID GRAY/AFP via Getty Images)
Lebanon's Ali Tneich reacts after being shown a yellow card by the referee. (DAVID GRAY via Getty Images)

with AAP