Brett Emerton bagged a brace and fellow European stars Tim Cahill and Josh Kennedy also got on the scoresheet as Australia outclassed Qatar 4-0 in their 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™ qualifier on Wednesday.
The Australians followed up their 3-0 and 3-1 wins over the Gulf side for their third comprehensive victory in eight months of this year's FIFA World Cup qualifying. The Socceroos leapfrogged Qatar to the top of Group 1 with their second victory of the final qualifying phase, setting themselves up nicely for their next assignment away to Bahrain on 19 November.
Australia, looking for back-to-back trips to the 2010 finals in South Africa after reaching the knockout round in Germany two years ago, were good value for their victory and had the game wrapped up on the hour. The result never looked in doubt after Cahill continued his amazing near one-in-two scoring rate for his country with a rapier finish in the ninth minute.
A long ball from Luke Wilkshire was helped on by David Carney and Kennedy to leave the Everton midfielder unmarked on the left-hand side of the box to drill home for his 14th goal in 29 internationals. Cahill was in the action again eight minutes later when he was impeded by Abdulla Koni as he attempted a mid-air volley and was awarded a penalty with Koni yellow carded. Blackburn Rovers' Emerton converted from the spot to give the confident Australians a two-goal buffer.
The Socceroos came close to increasing their margin in the 20th minute when an error from goalkeeper Abdulla Abdulaziz almost allowed Kennedy in to score and from the rebound Cahill fired just wide of the right post. The home side took their foot off the pedal late in the opening half enabling the Qataris to come more into the game and Brazilian import Fabio Montesin was astray with two long-range efforts. Magid Hassan gave the Australians their only anxious moment of the half when he fired across the goalmouth but no Qatari player was there to connect.
The Australians wrapped it up with Emerton's second goal of the night, finishing off lead-up play from strikers Scott McDonald and Kennedy to ram the ball home in the 59th minute for a 3-0 advantage. It was Emerton's fourth goal in Australia's last two games against Qatar. Karlsruhe beanpole striker Kennedy capped a fine match when he headed home Wilkshire's deep cross for Australia's fourth goal with 14 minutes left.
Pim Verbeek brought off Emerton minutes from the end to the acclaim of the 34,000 home crowd. The Qataris must now regroup under their new French coach Bruno Metsu for their third home match of the series against Japan next month.