Caltex Socceroos 5 (Jamie Maclaren 6’, 19’, 90’, Harry Souttar 23’, Dinesh Rajbanshi 59’ (OG) def. Nepal 0
The Caltex Socceroos have marked their first match in Canberra in four years with a dominant 5-0 win over Nepal on Thursday night.
The victory means Australia are a perfect two from two on their journey to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Striker Jamie Maclaren scored his first international hat-trick on the night, while Harry Souttar also found the back of the net on his debut for the green and gold.
The Socceroos dominated territory from the opening, and should have scored inside five minutes through Jackson Irvine, but his shot was denied by Nepal goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong following a goal-mouth scramble.
But Australia had their first just a minute later, as a Craig Goodwin strike rebounded into the lap of Maclaren, who tapped in from close range.
The Melbourne City striker didn’t have to wait long for his second, as Rhyan Grant floated a header towards Maclaren, who turned in a header of his own at the back post.
Scottish-born Souttar then got in on the act four minutes later, out muscling his Nepalese opponents before firing in a header to extend the Socceroos’ lead to three.
Australia should have gone into the half-time interval up 4-0, but Mathew Leckie’s 25-yard strike was ruled out with Maclaren judged to have been in an offside position.
Graham Arnold’s side peppered the goal early in the second stanza, before a header from Souttar in the 59th minute glanced off a Nepalese defender and rolled into the open net.
The Socceroos continued to create chances at ease throughout the second-half, and both Souttar and Awer Mabil missed strong opportunities to put Australia up by five.
But just as the match ticked past the 90 minute mark, Irvine delivered a lovely chest pass into the path of Maclaren, who controlled the ball and fired it past Chemjong to round out the 5-0 score line.
The Socceroos will now depart Canberra and travel to Chinese Taipei, who they will face at Kaohsiung Stadium on Tuesday night, 10:40pm (AEDT).