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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Robbie Kruse scores again in Germany, pushing for World Cup playoff start

Australia's Tomi Juric feels his side could have easily won by five goals and now anxiously await Japan's result.

Robbie Kruse sent a positive message to Australia coach Ange Postecoglou ahead of next week's 2018 World Cup playoff by scoring for a third game in succession for Vfl Bochum in the German second tier over the weekend.

Kruse grabbed the second goal in Bochum's 2-0 win with a composed finish from close range after a brilliant pass from Kevin Stoger.

After coming off the bench as the Socceroos beat Thailand 2-1 in Melbourne on Sept. 5, Kruse surely must now be pushing for a starting spot in a goal-starved side.

Despite 45 shots on targets, Australia could score only twice against the Southeast Asians, allowing Saudi Arabia to progress to Russia 2018, ahead of them on goal difference in Group B.

The Aussies will now face Syria in an AFC playoff over two legs on Oct. 5 and Oct. 10, with the winners to play the fourth-placed team from the CONCACAF zone for a place in the World Cup next year.

Bayer Leverkusen forward Robbie Kruse
Robbie Kruse has scored three goals in seven games for Vfl Bochum this season.

Kruse has now scored three goals in seven games for the ambitious outfit who moved up to 10th spot on the 2.Bundesliga ladder after eight matches.

For the national team, Kruse has an unsatisfactory four goals in 57 appearances since making his debut against United Arab Emirates in 2011.

Elsewhere in the German second tier, Jamie Maclaren, one of Kruse's rivals for a starting spot in next Thursday's first leg in Malacca, helped Darmstadt 98 salvage a 3-3 home draw with Dynamo Dresden.

Coming off the bench in the 72nd minute, Maclaren saw his team concede a third goal to trail 3-1 in the 80th minute. But they scored twice in the dying minutes to grab a share of the spoils, and move to fourth on the table.

A good weekend for Aussies in Europe was completed on Sunday night when goalkeeper Maty Ryan made a number of crucial saves to help Brighton & Hove Albion to a 1-0 home win over Newcastle United.

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