The Tim Cahill show has travelled to Bangladesh, with the Socceroos talisman netting a first-half hat-trick in Australia’s 4-0 World Cup qualifier win in Dhaka.
Cahill scored three times inside 37 minutes, while skipper Mile Jedinak also struck on Tuesday night to send Australia to the top of their qualifying group ahead of main rivals Jordan.
Jordan lost 1-0 to Kyrgyzstan in Bishkek early on Wednesday (AEDT).
The group table now has Australia on 15 points from six games, with Jordan on 13 points from six games, while Kyrgyzstan – which has played one game more – is on 11 points.
It was all one-way traffic in favour of the Australians, who easily controlled possession despite struggling to move the ball around freely on the long-grassed surface.
At times, Ange Postecoglou’s team were sloppy against their lower-ranked opponents — an off touch here, a wayward ball there.
“We came here to win the game. It was difficult conditions for us tonight,” Australia coach Postecoglou said after the match.
“In the first half it was good but the second half we were a little scrappy. In the end I was happy with the performance with the players, three points for us and with it we go home.”
Aaron Mooy shone bright as usual with a hand in every goal, and whenever he found space — and there was acres of it — the aerial threat of Cahill was waiting.
There was not a Bangladeshi defender in sight for the former Everton man’s first when he nodded in a deep free-kick from Mooy on six minutes.
It was nearly half an hour later before the Melbourne City star also set up the second with a through ball to debutant Josh Risdon, the in-form Perth Glory defender crossing for Cahill to volley home.
Five minutes later, Australia’s all-time leading goal scorer added another to his total by adding the finishing touch to a cross from Mooy, who had latched onto a sublime through ball from the recalled Matt McKay.
Crystal Palace midfielder Jedinak got in on the action anyway just before the interval with a textbook header from close range after Bailey Wright headed across the box.
If the first half was a raging goal fest, the break gave way to tedium.
Postecoglou replaced James Meredith with Jason Davidson and brought on Tommy Oar and James Troisi for Mooy and Massimo Luongo.
The crowd perked up briefly as the home side made a couple of inoffensive swoops forward, while Jedinak went close again 10 minutes from time.
But his tremendous overhead kick was parried to safety by Bangladesh keeper Sahidul Alam.