A masterful performance from Tom Rogic has inspired the Socceroos to a 4-0 win over Vietnam in Melbourne, ensuring Australia stay in the race for an automatic World Cup qualifying spot.
Rogic has been in brilliant form at Celtic under Ange Postecoglou and after missing the November window through injury, scored one goal and teed up another for Melbourne local Jamie Maclaren on Thursday.
Craig Goodwin and Riley McGree scored their first Socceroos goals off the bench in the second half to ensure Australia snapped a three-game winless run to remain in touch with leaders Saudi Arabia and Japan in Group B.
"We knew the significance of the game in terms of qualification," Rogic said.
"It was a good performance from the team in general. We maybe got a little bit sloppy in the second half but, overall, I think it's a good day's work and I was just happy to be back playing in Australia,
"It's probably been a couple of years since I've seen family and friends and there was a few in the crowd.
"We've got a bit of work to do in terms of qualification but we are on the right track now."
Rogic was involved in everything in an electrifying first half, and looked to have rifled Australia into the lead inside 20 seconds, sending the AAMI Park crowd of 27,740 into raptures, before the goal was chalked off for offside.
The playmaker helped deliver the breakthrough on the half-hour mark, lofting a cross towards Maclaren, who slipped unmarked between two defenders to power home a bouncing header.
Two minutes into stoppage time, Mathew Leckie slipped through Rogic to coolly double Australia's lead.
"There were a lot of outstanding performances tonight but Tommy was certainly one of them. Well deserved to be man of the match," assistant coach Rene Meulensteen said.
"He was an enormous driving force for us, he picked up the right positions for us to play through the lines and he's got that skill, ability and intelligence to find those clever passes to get in behind, to set it up.
"He really illustrated that, especially in the goal that he scored.
"It was an outstanding performance from him all around and that's what you want from players of that calibre. They are the difference makers for us and he certainly did that tonight."
To the delight of the large and vocal Vietnamese contingent, the visitors burst out of the break, with Ryan's save to deny Nguyen Cong Phuong in the 62nd one of several clear-cut chances.
Goodwin scored a lovely goal in the 72nd minute, then four minutes later, teed up McGree to lash home a wonderful strike.
Meulensteen took the reins in Graham Arnold's COVID-19 enforced absence, with the Socceroos boss to be assessed daily as to whether he can travel to Oman for the February 2 qualifier.
With Aziz Behich unavailable, Sydney FC youngster Joel King started at left-back in his first cap, while Melbourne City sensation Marco Tilio received a late debut off the bench.
Australian Associated Press