Australia took a giant stride towards the next stage of Asian qualifying for the 2014 FIFA World Cup™ with a 3-0 victory over Oman in Sydney.
An early goal from Brett Holman and second-half strikes from Josh Kennedy and Mile Jedinak proved enough to see off Paul Le Guen’s side who lost by the same margin against Thailand last month. The win maintains Australia’s perfect record after three matches, while Oman are left with a solitary point
Australia made three changes from the line-up which defeated Saudi Arabia 3-1 in Damman last month, with Matthew Spiranovic, Rhys Williams and goalkeeper Adam Federici starting in place of Sasa Ognenovski, Brett Emerton and the injured Mark Schwarzer.
Le Guen sprung a surprise by omitting regular captain Fouzi Bashir with Wigan Athletic goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi donning the captain’s armband.
Although Oman attacker Amad Ali made a dangerous run into the penalty area inside the opening minute, it was the visitors who found themselves on the back foot after just seven minutes as Australia took the lead. Oman failed to deal with a deep Williams cross to the far post and Matt McKay’s ball, hit hard across the face of goal, took goalkeeper Al-Habsi out of the equation and allowed Holman an easy finish from close range.
Despite the goal, opportunities to score remained at a premium throughout the opening half with Ali firing Oman’s first shot on target on 25 minutes. McKay cracked a sharp volley narrowly over the crossbar a minute prior to the interval as Australia came close to doubling their lead.
The tempo quickened in the second period with Kennedy missing a straight forward header on the hour mark. However, Kennedy made amends soon after with a close-range finish as Luke Wilkshire’s shot was parried into the path of the J.League’s top goalscorer, who comfortably scored his eighth international goal in his last five matches.
Federici was called upon to make a rare interception as Ahmed Mubarak fired a powerful free-kick from the edge of the penalty area with the Australian custodian requiring strong hands to push the ball around the post.
The Socceroos completed a comfortable victory five minutes from the end as midfielder Jedinak slotted home just his third international goal from Wilkshire’s perfectly flighted free-kick.