Steve Smith made 80 but lacked support as England took control of the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval.
The hosts resumed on day two at 8-271 and were bowled out for 294 before they dismissed Australia for just 225.
Smith was the only batsman to pass 50 as Australia’s under-pressure top order failed again.
Jofra Archer took six wickets and openers Rory Burns and Joe Denly both survived scares before stumps as England finished on 0-9, with a lead of 78 runs under the London sunshine.
England are now favourites to win the fifth Test, a result that would square the series up at 2-2.
Australia has already retained the Ashes, though, with England needing to win the series to reclaim cricket’s famous urn.
Mitch Marsh claimed the last England wicket to finish with figures of 5-46 but Smith, once again, saw a constant stream of departures in his time at the crease.
England started brightly, pushing its score towards 300 before Jos Buttler, attempting a heave through the legside, was bowled for 70 by Pat Cummins (3-84).
Marsh then got in on the act to claim his five-wicket haul with the scalp of Jack Leach, bowled for 21.
Australia has struggled at the top of the order all series, though, and David Warner’s shocking Ashes continued when he was caught behind off Archer (6-62) for five.
The decision was controversial and needed multiple replays but Archer, buoyed by his early wicket, soon dismissed Marcus Harris for just three.
That brought Marnus Labuschagne and Smith to the wicket and the pair guided Australia to lunch at 2-55.
Labuschagne scored freely but was trapped lbw by Archer on 48 before Matthew Wade (19) became the first victim of left-armed Sam Curran (3-46).
Steve Smith's scores since shirt numbers were introduced into Test cricket
1️⃣4️⃣2️⃣ & 1️⃣4️⃣4️⃣ 👉 Edgbaston
9️⃣2️⃣ 👉 Lord's
2️⃣1️⃣1️⃣ & 8️⃣2️⃣ 👉 Old Trafford
7️⃣5️⃣ * 👉 The Oval
Not one score below his shirt number 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/1YPZqGygzf
— ICC (@ICC) September 13, 2019
That reduced to Australia to 4-118 and heaped the pressure on Smith and the recalled Marsh.
The pair looked good initially but Marsh was caught on the hook, picking out fine leg off Archer for 17, before Tim Paine (1) and Pat Cummins (0) fell off successive Curran deliveries.
Smith, who was dropped on 66 by Root, looked good for another century in a truly remarkable series.
But just 20 runs shy of his hundred, he was given out lbw to the rarely used Chris Woakes (1-51).
Peter Siddle (18) and Nathan Lyon (25) added 37 for the ninth wicket and found the boundary at regular intervals.
But both fell to Archer as Australia failed to see the day out.
Josh Hazlewood is a fine bowler 👏
— Test Match Special (@bbctms) September 12, 2019
That gave Paine’s men four overs to bowl before stumps and Denly was dropped by Harris in the last over of the day.
It was a very simple chance and Josh Hazlewood, the bowler, then thought he had trapped Burns lbw.
But Burns quickly reviewed the decision and was proved right as England’s openers made it to stumps unscathed.
Burns finished on four not out while Denly is unbeaten on one.
Excellent weather is expected for day three and four of the Test, ensuring a result should be achieved.