Football: Australia thrash Tajikistan to inch closer to Russia World Cup

Tajikistan's Sharipov Faridun (left) and Australia's Nathan Burn tussle for the ball in the Fifa World Cup Asian qualifier in Adelaide on March 24, 2016.
Tajikistan's Sharipov Faridun (left) and Australia's Nathan Burn tussle for the ball in the Fifa World Cup Asian qualifier in Adelaide on March 24, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

(REUTERS) - Tom Rogic and Nathan Burns both scored twice, as Australia remained on course for a fourth successive football World Cup appearance with a 7-0 thrashing of Tajikistan in front of 35,439 fans at the Adelaide Oval on Thursday.

Skipper Mile Jedinak and Mark Milligan scored penalties either side of half-time, with Massimo Luongo also finding the target to put the Asian champions five points clear at the top of Group B in the second round of Asian qualifying.

Second-placed Jordan face Bangladesh in Amman later on Thursday, however, so who finishes top of the group, which guarantees a place in the decisive third round of qualifying, is likely to be decided when the Jordanians take on Australia in Sydney next Tuesday.

Debutant forward Apostolos Giannou had a role in both of the first two Australia goals, laying the ball off for Luongo to drill a shot home from the edge of the area in the second minute and earning the penalty which Jedinak converted 10 minutes later.

Australia dominated possession for the rest of the half but, with their all time leading scorer Tim Cahill watching on from the bench, failed to convert pressure into shots on goal.

Tajikistan, 83 places lower than their 67th-ranked hosts in the Fifa standings, struggled to get out of their half and it was not until the 27th minute that Nuriddin Davronov mustered their first shot, his long range effort nearly hitting the corner flag.

Milligan took over as captain when Jedinak was substituted at the break and he stepped up to take the penalty when Giannou was again upended inside the box 12 minutes after the restart.

Midfielder Aaron Mooy beat three defenders down the right in the 67th minute to give Burns a simple finish soon before Celtic attacking midfielder Rogic struck twice in three minutes to bring up the number "6" on the famous old cricket scoreboard.

The woodwork saved Tajikistan from any further humiliation until FC Tokyo striker Burns grabbed his second with a far-post header three minutes from time.