Socceroos off to a flyer against Iraq

Australia defeated Iraq 2-0 in an Asian Football Confederation World Cup Group B qualifying clash at the nib Stadium in Perth.

The Socceroos and Iraq were just two of 12 remaining Asian teams in the mix, with only the top two sides from two groups guaranteed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia in 2018. 

Australia were seen as favourites at home in front of more than 20,000 lively spectators in Western Australia. The hosts came out of the blocks quickly and Tomi Juric fired in a shot within the first minute that Mohammed Hameed was just about able to contain. 

Australia were comfortably controlling possession against a defensive-minded Iraq, and in the 11th minute Massimo Luongo fired a shot wide of the upright following good work on the left by Brad Smith.

The Lions of Mesopotamia were offering little threat going forward although they did have the ball of the back of the net in the 21st minute from a counter-attack. 

However, the ball had gone out before Alaa Ali Mhawi's strike flew past Matthew Ryan. Despite the scare, Aaron Mooy continued to dictate possession for Australia although the Angelos Postecoglou-coached side were creating little in the final third.

Iraq will feel unfortunate not to have been awarded a penalty in the 26th minute when Smith clearly pulled back Ali Husni inside the box, however, it was missed by the referee.

The left-back was in the thick of the action again in the 29th minute when his sublime cross found Matthew Leckie but his header hit the post.

Iraq's best move of the first half created a golden chance for Ahmed Yasin but he fired wide when he probably should have scored. After the break, the pattern of the first half continued, with Australia controlling possession without really threatening.

Yet, they did string together a move in the 56th minute that saw Mooy hit the crossbar with a powerful shot. It wouldn't be long before Australia's period of pressure would count when a minute later Luongo gave his side the lead following a fine cross from Tomi Juric.

The opening goal seemed to open the game up, with both sides having good moments at either end. Yet, the Aussies would take a 2-0 lead in the 65th minute when Juric tapped in after a Mooy corner was flicked on by Mark Milligan.

Both sides offered little threat for the remainder of the game, although Iraq did bring on the potentially dangerous Alaa Abdulzahra in an attempt to find a way back into the contest.

However, it wasn't to be as Postecoglou's men picked up a valuable three points at home.

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