Maclaren, Souttar on song as Socceroos ease past Nepal in World Cup qualifiers

Gabriel Tan Gabriel Tan

Australia have made it two wins in a row in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers after cruising to a 5-0 win over Nepal at the Canberra Stadium on Thursday evening.

It took the Socceroos just six minutes to open the scoring when Aaron Mooy played a freekick back to the edge of the box and Craig Goodwin’s low drive was spilled by Kiran Chemjong, paving the way for an alert Jamie Maclaren to net on the rebound.

The hosts then doubled their lead in the 19th minute when a left-wing cross by Aziz Behich was nodded back across goal by Rhyan Grant, and it was Maclaren who popped up again to nod home from two yards and double his and his side’s tally.

The contest was effectively ended four minutes later and this time it was Harry Souttar who made it a first cap to remember, showing the greatest determination amidst a sea of players to head Goodwin’s corner home from close range.

Souttar’s international debut got even better a minute before the hour mark when he grabbed a brace of his own following a short-corner routine, as he met Mooy’s looping delivery with a towering header that was fumbled by Chemjong over the line.

And, in the final minute, Australia wrapped up an emphatic win when Mark Milligan’s searching pass was expertly chested by Jackson Irvine into the path of Maclaren, who immediately latched onto the pass and coolly finished past Chemjong from a tight angle to complete his hat-trick.

The victory means the Socceroos are now top of Group B in the second round of Asian qualifiers for the World Cup, having netted eight goals without reply in their opening two matches.

AUSTRALIA: Mathew Ryan, Rhyan Grant, Bailey Wright, Harry Souttar, Aziz Behich, Mark Milligan, Aaron Mooy (Apostolos Giannou 62’), Jackson Irvine, Mathew Leckie (Awer Mabil 77’), Craig Goodwin (Ajdin Hrustic 71’), Jamie Maclaren.

NEPAL: Kiran Chemjong, Dinesh Rajbanshi, Ananta Tamang, Devendra Tamang, Ranjit Dhimal, Rohit Chand, Ravi Paswan, Bishal Rai (Santosh Tamang 86’), Anjan Bista (Tej Tamang 79’), Sujal Shrestha, Abhishek Rijal (Bimal Gharti Magar 66’).