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Asian Qualifiers - Group B: Australia comfortably see off Nepal to confirm final round ticket


Kuwait City: Australia confirmed the inevitable as the Socceroos secured top spot in Group B of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 after strolling to a 3-0 win over Nepal on Friday.

Mathew Leckie, Fran Karacic, Martin Boyle were on target for Graham Arnold’s side as they made it seven wins out of seven to book their spot in the final round of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and berth in the AFC Asian Cup China 2023 Finals.

Nepal, meanwhile, ended their campaign in fourth with six points.

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Arnold, having already utilised 26 of the 29 players he has at his disposal, started with another revamped line-up with only Connor Metcalfe, Harry Souttar and Mitchell Duke keeping their positions from the side that had defeated Chinese Taipei 5-1 on Monday.

Australia took just six minutes to open the scoring as Metcalfe relayed the ball to Aziz Behich, who delivered a perfect cross to Leckie to head home for his 13th international goal.

Resilient defending saw Nepal frustrate Australia after the opening goal but Karacic (pictured above) doubled the 2015 AFC Asian Cup champions' lead in the 38th minute when he scored off Leckie's cutback from the edge of the area.

There was more agony to come for Nepal, who were reduced to 10 men after Rohit Chand was sent off at the stroke of half-time for a foul on Martin Boyle, who was through on goal.

Australia started the second half with the same purpose and their aggression bore fruit in the 57th minute as Boyle tapped in Jackson Irvine's clever pass from close range.

Nepal continued to live dangerously as Nikita Rukavytsya came close in the 67th minute as Australia, with the pressure off, enjoyed total domination.

A fourth goal, however, eluded them and Arnold's side will now look forward to ending their campaign on a perfect note with a win over Jordan on Tuesday.

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