Australia down Lebanon to keep World Cup quest on track


Australia remained on course to reach a sixth straight World Cup with a comfortable 2-0 win over 115th-ranked Lebanon in a qualifier game at Western Sydney Stadium on Thursday.

The Socceroos made it three wins out of three in the second round of Asian qualifying.

Midfielder Keanu Baccus opened the scoring with a cross-shot from wide on the right in the fifth minute and defender Kye Rowles added the second nine minutes after the break to send most of the 27,026 crowd home happy.

The victory extended Australia's lead at the top of Group I to seven points pending Palestine's match against Bangladesh in Kuwait later on Thursday.

Australia can lock up a spot in the third round of Asian qualifying when they face Lebanon again on Tuesday in what is a home match for Miodrag Radulovic's team but was moved to Canberra because of the security situation in the Middle East.

"It's very satisfying," said midfielder Connor Metcalfe. "Obviously the most important thing is a win and a clean sheet but I think we can do a lot better - too sloppy, too many easy mistakes but then again, very happy with the win."

Lebanon, cheered on by a noisy contingent from Sydney's sizeable Lebanese community, showed more ambition than their five-man defence suggested and they were unlucky not to score.

Baccus's first goal for his country helped settle any nerves for the home side even if it was a little fortuitous as what looked like an attempted cross curled into the net over the head of Lebanon goalkeeper Mostafa Matar.

Rowles doubled the lead from a corner in the 54th minute, the left back pouncing on a loose ball and slicing it into the net off the post for his first international goal.

Lebanon's best moves went through experienced skipper Hassan Maatouk but they too lacked quality with the final touch and Ali Tneich got their first proper shot on the Australia goal on the hour mark.

Australia were struggling to turn neat approach play into clear-cut chances, however, and it was Lebanon's Mexican-born substitute Daniel Kuri who almost scored the next goal, his 82nd minute shot beating Mat Ryan but coming back off the post.

Goalkeeper Ryan was again brought into action in stoppage time to deny Karim Darwich from a free kick while a Kuri header flashed past the post just before the final whistle.

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