Australia have beaten Kuwait 3-0 as their senior stars fired them a step closer to qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.
It was billed as stern test of a young prototype Socceroos side that included 12 players who had 10 caps of less, but captain Mathew Leckie's brace and Aaron Mooy's beautiful bolt easily secured all three points in the first half at Al Kuwait Sports Club Stadium on Tuesday night (Wednesday morning AEDT).
The hosts frantically tried to force themselves back into the game after the break, but captain Hussain Al-Musawi and Yousef Nasser couldn't find the net and Australia took control as the clock ticked down.
"It was a fantastic win, you know a very positive start to the campaign and a lot of younger fresh faces that we've brought in over the last six months really stood up tonight," Socceroos coach Graham Arnold told AAP.
"We're very proud of them."
Leckie, who wore the captain's armband after Mark Milligan was injured earlier in the week, thought it was always going to be tough with the temperature 36C, but he knew the Socceroos could get the result they wanted if they stayed vigilant.
"As I said to the boys before the game, concentration and clarity is going to be the biggest thing and we did it really well tonight, I think we were really composed, scored the goals we needed to and saw the game out," he told AAP.
"Big one for me also to represent that country with Milligan out, but the most important was the win and we did it."
Leckie stars as skipper
It took just seven minutes for the Socceroos to break the deadlock when playmaker Jackson Irvine's low drive from just inside the box bounced through a sea of legs, including Adam Taggart's, to Leckie who poked across Kuwait goalkeeper Sulaiman Abdulghafoor into the bottom right corner.
Australia doubled their lead in the 30th minute when the Hull City midfielder rose to nod Mooy's corner over the defence to his waiting skipper Leckie, who stabbed into the bottom right corner.
Kuwait worked hard to allow their opponents no ball time, but the deft passes and surging runs of Irvine, Mooy, Leckie, Brandon Borrello and Aziz Behich couldn't be contained.
Irvine helped Australia put the result beyond doubt in the 38th minute by teeing up Mooy for a cracking bolt from outside the box.
Rhyan Grant's searching cross was parried by Abdulghafoor into the path of Irvine, who nudged the ball left for the onrushing Mooy to strike it sweetly into the top right corner.
Australia sat back in the second half, content to hit the hosts on the counterattack, with Kuwait still desperately searching for a way in.
Al-Musawi had two chances in 53rd and 59th minute, but only the later shot required the outstretched Mathew Ryan to tip it over the crossbar.
Yousef Nasser also had an opportunity after Trent Sainsbury's awkward clearance but Ryan parried his resulting shot past the front post.
Right on fulltime Awer Mabil found himself one-on-one with the Kuwait keeper, but the stumbling Abdulghafoor got a hand to the winger's lob.
The win moves Australia into equal first in qualifying Group B with Kuwait, with their next match at home against Nepal on October 10.
The perfect start for the @Socceroos on the road to Qatar 2022 💪
Captain Mathew Leckie scores a double and Aaron Mooy adds a third as Australia down Kuwait in the second round of AFC World Cup qualification. #KUWvAUS #AsianQualifiers #OptusSport pic.twitter.com/3Kq09jiZwh
— Optus Sport (@OptusSport) September 10, 2019
Brilliant, Aaron Mooy. That could spark his season. Nice involvement from Taggart. Leading the line well, working the channels. Yes, opposition bang average. #KUWvAUS
— Daniel Garb (@DanielGarb) September 10, 2019
Oh my word. What a incredible pass from Aaron Mooy. Unfortunately Mabil missed his chance. But wow, clinical. #Socceroos
— Jeremy Doc (@BackoTheDoc) September 10, 2019
— Short Corner Olé (@shortcornerole) September 10, 2019
Some way to score your first goal in years from Mooy too. #KUWvAUS
— Justin Davies (@JustDavies90) September 10, 2019
Strewth. Albion midfielder Aaron Mooy has scored a ripper. You beauty. Think I've exhausted most of the cliches for Aussie goals https://t.co/2OmtwGrcQ8
— Mike Legg (@Bexram) September 10, 2019