Socceroos' remarkable 20-year first in World Cup qualification

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·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
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Harry Souttar put the Socceroos on the scoreboard within 10 minutes against Chinese Taipei.
Australian defender Harry Souttar scored the opening goal in the Socceroos' 5-1 win over Chinese Taipei in the World Cup qualifiers. (Photo by Speed Media/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Socceroos marked a 20-year first in their quest to qualify for the 2022 World Cup, likely progressing to the third round of the qualifiers thanks to a 5-1 win over Chinese Taipei.

The dominant victory was the Socceroos' sixth in a row, the first time the national team has held a winning streak that long since 2001.

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The Frank Farina-led 2001 team's winning streak memorably ended when they were defeated 3-0 by rivals Uruguay, earning their place in the World Cup at the Socceroos expense.

However the Socceroos thus far look well placed to avoid a repeat of such heartbreak, with the team likely to progress to the next round of qualifiers thanks to their strong record in the third round.

Harry Souttar headed Australia in front in the 11th minute, with Jamie Maclaren and Trent Sainsbury also scoring in the first half before Mitch Duke added a second-half brace.

Australia now have a maximum 18 points from six games - with games against Nepal and Jordan remaining - to sit top of Group B, with a top-two finish guaranteed.

Even if the Socceroos let top spot slip to Jordan, they will almost certainly be one of the four-best runners-up that also advance to the next phase along with the eight group winners.

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Graham Arnold rotated his entire starting XI from the team that beat Kuwait 3-0.

Macarthur FC midfielder Denis Genreau started on debut with Arnold introducing Connor Metcalfe in the 64th minute and Ruon Tongyik in the 86th for their maiden caps.

Kenny Dougall and Riley McGree made their first starts in the green and gold while defender Curtis Good started at left-back for his first cap since his 2014 debut.

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The Socceroos were busy early at Jaber Al-Ahmad International Stadium and took the lead when McGree picked out Souttar from a corner and the Stoke City defender powered home a back-post header.

Maclaren was hacked down as he streaked towards goal in the 26th minute and blasted the penalty down the middle a minute later to double Australia's lead.

Three minutes later, Brandon Borrello spurned a golden opportunity when he put a tap-in onto the post.

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In the 41st minute, McGree floated in a corner to the far post where Sainsbury, wearing the captain's armband, comfortably headed home.

Less than a minute into the second half, Genreau burst forward and found Borrello, whose clever cross was well met by Duke at the near post - for his first Socceroos goal since 2013.

The Aussies would have been disappointed after conceding off the back of sloppy defending in the 62nd minute.

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Tu Shao-chieh burst forward and cut the ball back for the inexplicably unmarked Wei-Jie Gao, who smacked a first-time shot past Danny Vukovic.

Striker Nikita Rukavytsya made his first appearance since November 2017 in the 74th minute.

Ten minutes later, substitute Ajdin Hrustic dropped a clever ball to Rukavytsya who held his ground and cut the ball back for Duke to bury his second and round out the result.

With AAP

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