The Socceroos attack is starting to click under coach Graham Arnold after Australia thrashed Nepal 5-0, but it was still left frustrated after their World Cup qualifier in Canberra on Thursday night.
Australia had all the possession and territory, creating countless chances but struggled to finish against the team ranked 161 in the world.
The Socceroos were never challenged and dominated from start to finish against the Group B minnows as Jamie Maclaren scored his first international hat-trick.
Maclaren had scored just one goal in 13 appearances leading into the game but showed his class in front of 18,563 fans.
It's 🇦🇺 3-0 🇳🇵 at the break in Canberra.
— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) October 10, 2019
Maclaren was happy to take the match ball after the 90 minutes.
“(It’s) my proudest moment in a football jersey – representing my country in Canberra and scoring a hat-trick,” the Melbourne City striker said.
Arnold was satisfied with the score but said plenty of improvement remained in his team.
“We have a lot of work to do … we created plenty of chances, but we have to be more ruthless when it counts,” Arnold said.
“It’s a performance that we can improve on, but overall I am very happy.”
Australia opened the scoring with a set-piece move on six minutes when Aaron Mooy found Craig Goodwin and his low drive couldn’t be contained before Maclaren fired in the rebound.
The second goal arrived when Aziz Behich crossed for Rhyan Grant, who headed back across the face of goal to Maclaren to score from point-blank range on 19 minutes.
Scotsman Harry Souttar then made it three as the 198cm defender scored on debut after heading in a well-hit Goodwin corner.
It should have been 4-0 on the stroke of half-time when Mathew Leckie scored a deflected goal that was incorrectly ruled offside by the linesman.
Harry Souttar, what a @Socceroos debut! 🔥
— Caltex Socceroos (@Socceroos) October 10, 2019
Goodwin looked certain to score his first international goal in the second half, but his back-post header was denied sharply by goalkeeper Kiran Chemjong.
Souttar celebrated a double when he headed home on 59 minutes but the shot took a deflection and it officially went down as an own goal to Dinesh Rajbanshi.
Maclaren completed his hat-trick in the 90th minute after collecting the ball from Jackson Irvine’s chest inside the box and finishing sharply.
The Socceroos have begun their road to Qatar 2022 with two strong wins and now face Taiwan away on Tuesday before players return to their clubs.