Australia began the final group phase of AFC World Cup qualifying with a comfortable 2-0 win over Iraq on Thursday thanks to goals from Massimo Luongo and Tomi Juric.
The Socceroos dominated for long periods in Perth and got their reward in the 58th minute as QPR midfielder Luongo, slotted home the opener, with Juric providing the assist.
And the points were made safe by Juric when he poked home six minutes later, converting from Mark Milligan’s flick-on from a corner.
Ange Postecoglou’s men will look to make it two from two in a tough Group B that also features Japan and Saudi Arabia when they take on the United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
Australia could have opened the scoring inside the opening minute, Juric forcing Mohammed Hameed into action.
Brad Smith then found Mathew Leckie with a pinpoint cross but the Ingolstadt forward’s looping header struck the post.
Iraq went close to breaking the deadlock against the run of play, only to see Ahmed Yaseen Gheni’s curling effort fizz wide of Mat Ryan’s goal.
But Australia began the second half with renewed vigour and saw Aaron Mooy clatter the crossbar and Juric spurn a gilt-edged chance before the breakthrough finally arrived.
Juric broke free down the right, with Luongo timing his run perfectly to turn the low delivery into the net.
The impressive Juric then got the goal his play deserved to seal a much-deserved victory as Australia made a strong start in their bid to reach the World Cup finals for the fourth consecutive time.
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