Yengi nets double in Socceroos’ romp

Australia v Palestine - Second Round FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier
The Socceroos celebrate after a Kusini Yengi goal in Perth. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images

Kusini Yengi further enhanced his claims for a permanent spot in the Socceroos’ starting team with a brace in Australia’s 5-0 disposal of Palestine in Perth on Tuesday night.

The 25-year-old Portsmouth striker scored twice in the first half at HBF Park, where the Socceroos completed the second-round of AFC qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup with a sixth successive win.

Yengi has now scored four goals in his past three matches for Australia as he stakes a genuine claim to be the Socceroos’ first-choice centre forward.

Joining him on the scoresheet in the comprehensive win were Adam Taggart, Martin Boyle and substitute Nestory Irankunda, who netted his first goal for the Socceroos in just his second appearance with a late penalty following a handball offence from Palestine defender Yaser Hamed.

It was part of a tough night for Hamed, who also gave away a spot kick in the first five minutes to give the Socceroos the early ascendancy.

However, it was a contentious decision from Saudi Arabian referee Khalid Al-Turais, with Palestine furious after he pointed to the penalty spot following a collision in the box between Hamed and Australian left-back Aziz Behich.

With the VNR system not in operation, there was to be no reversing of the decision, with striker Yengi netting the spot kick.

Australia v Palestine - Second Round FIFA World Cup 2026 Qualifier
Goalscorers Adam Taggart (right) and Martin Boyle celebrate during Australia’s win in Perth. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images

The Australians doubled their lead in the 26th minute when Perth Glory marksman Taggart scored for the first time in Socceroos colours since 2019 with a clinical finish after being fed by Martin Boyle.

Taggart’s seventh goal in 20 Socceroos’ appearances was also the first time he had found the back of the net in an international on home soil.

The Socceroos put the game to bed late in the first half when Yengi scored his second of the night, but there were doubts over the goal, with Boyle, who again provided the assist, appearing to be offside in the build-up.

The rout continued in the second-half, with Boyle rewarded for his good performance with a 53rd-minute goal, scoring from close range after some unselfish play from Taggart, who rather than shoot from a good position, laid the ball into his grateful teammate’s path.

Bayern Munich-bound Irankunda provided the icing on the cake with his 87th-minute penalty, and celebrated with his customary backflips.

“It was a good result for the boys and a fantastic performance at home,” Perth product Taggart said.

“It means a lot to do it here in Perth. I couldn’t be happier.”

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold made eight changes to the side that start in last Thursday’s 2-0 win over Bangladesh, while Newcastle Jets striker Apostolos Stamatelopoulos was given his first Socceroos cap off the bench.

“It’s (about) the depth that we’ve been creating,” Arnold said.