Tajikistan 0 Australia 3: Cahill at the double as Socceroos stay top of Group B

Tim Cahill netted a brace as Australia remained top of AFC World Cup qualifying Group B with a battling 3-0 win over Tajikistan in Dushanbe.

The visitors had to wait until the second half to break the deadlock, but goals from Mark Milligan and Cahill put them firmly in control after the break.

And Cahill scored his second late on to wrap up victory that keeps Australia on top of the group with a maximum nine points from three matches.

Jordan, who are the Socceroos’ main rivals for top spot, had applied the pressure with a 4-0 away victory over Bangladesh earlier on Tuesday, but Australia got the result they needed.

Ange Postecoglou's men were on top in the opening half hour and Cahill came close with three headed attempts, the best of which saw him divert Jason Davidson’s cross on to the roof of the net.

Australia came closer when Matthew Spiranovic's looping header from an Aaron Mooy corner was pushed on to the crossbar by goalkeeper Alisher Dodov.

The Socceroos should have been ahead when Ryan McGowan played in Massimo Luongo, whose header from close range was parried away by Dodov. Mathew Leckie eventually gathered the loose ball and his goal-bound effort was hacked off the goal-line.

Having been under pressure for most of the half, Tajikistan grew in confidence began to threaten. Manuchekhr Dzhalilov shot over the bar and Spiranovic had to tidy up after a threatening cross caused rare moment of panic in the Australia defence moments later.

Australia hit the woodwork within five minutes of the second half. Mooy unleashed an excellent free-kick attempt from 25 yards and was only denied by the angle between post and bar with Dodov completely beaten.

The breakthrough finally arrived in the 57th minute when a Mooy corner deflected into the path of Milligan, who instinctively prodded an effort into the far corner for his fourth international goal.

Australia made it two on 73 minutes with a far more attractive goal following slick interplay down the right between substitute Nathan Burns and McGowan, who then squared perfectly to Cahill at the near post, allowing the veteran to apply a simple finish from close-range.

It was almost three moments later when Davidson found Luongo, but the QPR man was denied by the woodwork.

Cahill sealed the victory in the final minute with a trademark powerful header after he was found by substitute Tommy Oar.

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