Leckie, Nabbout on target as Socceroos cruise past Czechs

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Australia’s Socceroos recorded a morale-boosting 4-0 win over Czech Republic on Friday as they continue to build towards the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

In the first of their final warm-up friendlies before their June 16 Group C opener against France, the Socceroos produced a clinical display at the NV Arena that will be heartening to coach Bert van Marwijk.

A well-worked move in the 32nd minute saw them open the scoring as they patiently worked the ball from left to right to the overlapping Josh Risdon.

The right-back’s first-time delivery to the back post was helped by Robbie Kruse back across the face of goal, where Mathew Leckie was on hand to convert from a couple of yards out.

Nine minutes after halftime, Andrew Nabbout – chosen to lead the line on Friday – continued his stunning rise with his first international goal.

The 25-year-old is still plying his trade in Asia with Japan’s Urawa Red Diamonds, and it was only two years ago that he found himself playing in the humbler setting of Malaysian football.

But Nabbout showed he has plenty to offer Australia on the global stage, pouncing on a poor back header by Jakub Jugas and keeping his cool despite being confronted by Tomas Kalas to lash a shot into the bottom corner.

To be fair, the Czechs were not exactly covering themselves in glory and they left themselves exposed once again in the 72nd minute; Aaron Mooy leading the charge before feeding a pass to Leckie, who cut inside an opponent before firing past Tomas Koubek at the near post.

One of the big positives for Van Marwijk was the fact that his charges had no trouble finding goals without him having to turn to veteran star Tim Cahill, who barely was even required to get off the bench and warm up.

Just for good measure, Australia added a fourth with ten minutes remaining as Milos Degenek bombed forward before playing in a low cross that was diverted by Jugas into the back of his own net.

AUSTRALIA: Mathew Ryan, Josh Risdon (Milos Degenek 76’), Trent Sainsbury, Mark Milligan, Aziz Behich, Aaron Mooy, Massimo Luongo, Tom Rogic (Jackson Irvine 66’), Mathew Leckie (Daniel Arzani 84’), Robbie Kruse (Dimitri Petratos 73’), Andrew Nabbout (Jamie Maclaren 61’).

CZECH REPUBLIC: Tomas Koubek, Jan Boril, Tomas Kalas, Jakub Jugas, Filip Novak, Vladimir Darida, Josef Husbauer, Patrik Schick (Josef Sural 75’), Antonin Barak (Jan Sykora 57’), Jan Kopic (Tomas Horava 83’), Michael Krmencik (Jakub Jankto 46’).