Australia beats Jordan in World Cup qualifying
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Australia's chances of qualifying for a third consecutive World Cup look considerably brighter after a comprehensive 4-0 home win over Jordan in Asian qualifying on Tuesday.
Midfielder Robbie Kruse scored one goal and set up two others as Australia earned the vital win and second spot in Group B, four points behind already-qualified Japan and one ahead of Oman. Jordan has seven points, while Iraq has five ahead of its match with Japan later Tuesday.
Attacking midfielder Mark Bresciano scored in the first half and talismanic forward Tim Cahill found the net after the break - both off Kruse passes - while captain Lucas Neill claimed his first-ever international goal shortly before fulltime.
"It's fantastic to get four goals,'' Kruse said. "We could have got a couple more.''
Australia must beat Iraq next Tuesday in Sydney to be assured of advancing directly to the 2014 World Cup, while a draw will leave it at the mercy of the Oman-Jordan match the same day.
The top two teams in each group qualify, and the third-place teams advance to a playoff.
"Tonight we had an excellent performance,'' Australia coach Holger Osieck said. "It was a great team effort and I think our team showed great unity. The score was definitely what we needed ... a good margin, a good clean sheet.''
Two-time World Cup veteran and former Serie A playmaker Bresciano scored the opening goal in the 15th minute when he latched onto a lofted centering pass from Kruse to fire the ball past Jordan goalkeeper Amer Shafi.
The Australians quickly grew in confidence, applying growing pressure in the Jordanian half, peppering the goal with shots and forcing some desperate defense.
"This is the time when it needs to click,'' Bresciano said. "We know exactly what we're playing for. We've got a must-win game next week in Sydney.''
Jordan was able to threaten at times, with Shadi Abu Hashhash and Adnan Suleiman particularly dangerous, but the Australian defense was equal to the task and Bayer Leverkusen forward Kruse was constantly making inroads in counterattack.
"It was a wonderful performance, but it means nothing if we don't get the goal next week,'' Kruse said.
"I feel I've had a pretty good year in the Bundesliga, hopefully that's been reflected in my performance.''
After Australia made a sedate start to the second half, Cahill doubled the lead in the 61st when he stormed onto a Kruse pass to fire the ball in just in front of goal.
The Australians dictated play from then on, with Kruse fittingly finding the net in the 77th, before defender Neil put the game beyond doubt with a header in the 84th for his first goal in 91 appearances for Australia.
Jordan coach Adnan Hamad said Kruse exposed some defensive problems for Iraq.
"There were some problems in defense on the right hand side,'' Hamad said via an interpreter. "This was because of the pressure. We'll be working on it for the next match against Oman.''
Osieck retained the team that drew 1-1 at Japan last week and says he believes he's found his optimal lineup.
"I was convinced the XI that started in Japan were, at that moment, the best we have right now, and their performance proved me right,'' the German said. "Tonight we saw the proof of it.''
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