Robbie Kruse, Tim Cahill help Australia progress in AFC World Cup qualifiers
Ange Postecoglou's Australia confirmed their place in the final AFC World Cup qualifying group stage with a comfortable 5-1 win over Jordan on Tuesday.
Managed by former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, the Gulf state was unable to withstand the Asian champions who turned in a rampant display on a wet and windy night in Sydney.
Socceroos veteran Tim Cahill may have extended his lead at the top of Australia's all-time goal-scoring charts to 47 with a well-taken brace, but it was Bayer Leverkusen attacker Robbie Kruse who stole the limelight.
The 27-year-old constantly found space in behind the Jordan defence and was rewarded with three assists and a standing ovation from the 25,000-strong crowd when substituted in the 71st minute.
Not to be outdone, midfielders Aaron Mooy, Tom Rogic and Massimo Luongo all chimed in with goals for the hosts, ensuring that Australia ended the international break with an impressive 12-1 aggregate scoreline.
Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)
GK Maty Ryan, 6 -- The Valencia keeper was a spectator for most of the match and could not have done much about Abdallah Deeb's late, late strike.
DF Josh Risdon, 6 -- One of two A-League players on display for the Socceroos, Risdon repaid Postecoglou's faith with a decent performance at right-back. Constantly getting forward to help the midfield, the Perth Glory man's industry was not matched by his final ball.
DF Bailey Wright, 7 -- In Matthew Spiranovic's absence, Wright has made an excellent case to start alongside Trent Sainsbury in the heart of Australia's defence.
DF Trent Sainsbury, 8 -- Elegant on the ball and dominant in the air, the former Central Coast Mariner has grown into the fine centre-half that many hoped he would become. When Postecoglou pencils in a likely starting XI for Russia 2018, Sainsbury will be one of the first names on the list.
DF Brad Smith, 8 -- Have the Socceroos finally found an answer to their problem left-back position? Australia's left flank tore apart the Jordan defence, largely thanks to Smith's penetrating runs.
MF Mark Milligan, 7 -- Milligan remains an excellent understudy for injured captain Mile Jedinak. Snuffed out a number of Jordan attacks before they even began.
MF Aaron Mooy, 8 -- The A-League's No. 1 Australian talent continued his fine season with another sterling performance. Mooy capped his display with a well-taken goal in the 38th minute.
MF Tom Rogic, 8 -- Rogic's injury woes of 2014-15 are well behind him. His delightful control then finish after Cahill's shot was blocked in the 52nd minute drew rapturous applause from the Sydney crowd.
FW Robbie Kruse, 10 -- The former Melbourne Victory man had a memorable night in the Socceroos No. 10 jersey. Bagging three assists in a man-of-the-match performance, Kruse is finally getting back the sort of form he was in prior to the knee injury that crushed his 2014 World Cup hopes.
FW Mathew Leckie, 6 -- Presented with the game's first real opportunity to score in the seventh minute, Leckie opted to cross rather than shoot. At 25 years old, the time has come for the FC Ingolstadt forward to start matching his breakneck speed with some sort of end product.
FW Tim Cahill, 8 -- Denied a chance to play in front of home fans in Adelaide last Thursday, Cahill regained his starting position at the top of Postecoglou's 4-3-3 formation in Sydney. The 36-year-old played his target-man role with aplomb, easily finishing the two chances that Kruse presented him -- first a tap-in from four yards, the second a trademark header.
FW Chris Ikonomidis, 7 -- On for Leckie in the 63rd minute, the Lazio man easily slipped into Postecoglou's setup. Within minutes of joining the action, the 20-year-old provided the cross for Mass Luongo's 68th minute goal. One for the future for sure.
FW Massimo Luongo, 7 -- On for Mooy in the 63rd minute, Asian Cup hero Luongo is a testament to Australia's current depth in midfield. If Luongo, Mooy and Rogic can all push each other to greater heights, Australia's prospects for Russia 2018 look very encouraging indeed.
FW Nathan Burns, N/R -- On for Kruse in the 71st minute, Burns could not get into a game that was already won.
Mike Wise is the associate editor for ESPN FC Australia and New Zealand. You can follow him on Twitter @wisey_9.