Kaoshiung City: Australia continued their perfect record in Group B of the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 with a comprehensive 7-1 over Chinese Taipei at National Stadium on Tuesday.
Adam Taggart, Jackson Irvine and defensive newcomer Harry Souttar netted two goals apiece, with Jamie Maclaren coming off the bench to score his fourth goal in five days in a dominant display from the visitors.
Chen Yi-wei’s goal was a rare moment worth celebrating for Chinese Taipei, who remain at the bottom of the table after a third consecutive home defeat.
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Fresh from a 5-0 win over Nepal, Australia looked not only to extend their squad depth as much as their winning streak, as Graham Arnold made seven changes, including an entirely new front three, from the team that took the field in Canberra last Thursday.
It may have been a new-look outfit, but Australia enjoyed the same ascendancy in the early stages, with Milos Degenek forcing an early save from Pan Wen-Chieh, before Taggart headed a Rhyan Grant cross to open the scoring in the 12th minute.
Promoted to the starting line-up at the expense of last week’s hat-trick scorer Maclaren, Taggart doubled his tally seven minutes later, converting an opportunity carved out by Brad Smith’s enterprising wing-play to notch his fifth international goal, and fourth against Chinese Taipei.
The hosts looked bereft of answers, but they came back into the contest in stunning style in the 22th minute, when veteran Chen Yi-wei produced a thumping header to score from Chen Ting-yang’s cross and become the first player to beat Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan this campaign.
However, the hosts’ recovery was short-lived, as Irvine volleyed home from another Grant assist in the 34th minute, finishing off an opportunity which had been carved out by Aaron Mooy’s excellent diagonal ball moments earlier
Irvine added a second just three minutes later, this time punishing some hesitant defending to head in Awer Mabil’s cross and give Australia a handsome 4-1 lead at the interval.
Chinese Taipei improved after the break, coming close to pulling a goal back through Wang Ruei – who sent a free header wide – and temporarily limiting the quality and quantity of Australia’s chances.
But despite the best efforts of Louis Lancaster’s side, Australia’s fifth goal arrived when Souttar continued his stellar start to life as a Socceroo by heading in a wide set-piece delivery from substitute Ajdin Hrustic in the 73rd minute.
Maclaren issued a late reminder of his quality when he breached the defensive line to rifle home the sixth in the 84th minute – just six minutes after replacing Taggert – before another towering Souttar header rounded out Australia biggest international win in over three years.
Arnold’s side are expected to encounter a more difficult challenge when they meet Jordan in Amman on November 14, with Chinese Taipei to meet Kuwait on the same day.
Photos: Chinese Taipei Football Association
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