The Socceroos were successful back in action for the first time in 567 days, as they faced off against Kuwait in the Jaber Al-Hamad International Stadium as they continued their quest for World Cup qualification.
Despite the immensely hot conditions, the Green and Gold were able to pull away effectively, nullifying any doubts about rustiness coming into the qualifiers within the hub in Kuwait.
Despite the extended absence, it took the Aussies less than 60 seconds to open the scoring, captain Mathew Leckie making the most of a free header to power home from close range.
Ajden Hrustic caused problems for Kuwait from the outset, a particularly dangerous run from the Frankfurt midfielder winning his side a penalty in the 23rd minute.
Martin Boyle, who had been lethal in front of goal for Hibernian all season, saw his spot kick saved, but his Hibs team mate Jackson Irvine was on hand to smash the rebound in to the roof of the net.
A dominant first half performance could easily have seen the Socceroos take a three or four goal cushion in to the sheds at the break.
They had to wait until the 66th minute to add to their tally, Hrustic scoring his first international goal with a phenomenal direct free kick from distance.
The searing heat definitely took its toll in the second half, allowing Kuwait to produce a few chances but nothing truly tested Mat Ryan between the sticks.
After 18 months without a fixture, one could be forgiven for expecting some ring rust from this Socceroos side, but they looked fresh and exciting.
If there were any cobwebs, they certainly blew them away with this demolition of their Group B rivals.
HRUSTIC HANDED THE KEYS
In the absence of both Tom Rogic and Aaron Mooy, Ajden Hrustic was given the responsibility of pulling the strings in midfield, and he absolutely flourished.
The 24 year old put in a performance that belied both his age and his inexperience at international level; demonstrating great comfort in possession, a willingness to run at the opposition and providing a constant threat from set pieces and open play.
A stunning set piece goal capped a memorable night for the young playmaker.
Brescia full-back Fran Karacic became Socceroo number 607 as he was named in the starting line up for the first time, while Blackpool hero Kenny Dougall and Birmingham loanee Riley McGree made their first appearances in the Green and Gold off the bench.
An impressive 3 – 0 win on the ‘Road to Qatar 2022’ will certainly live long in the memories of these three debutants.
FIFA World Cup Qualifiers
Australia 3 (Leckie 1’, Irvine 24’, Hrustic 66’) Kuwait 0
Referee: Jumpei Iida
1.Mat Ryan, 16. Aziz Behich, 8. McGowan, Milos Degenek, 3. Fran Karacic, 22. Jackson Irvine, 5. James Holland (Kenny Dougall 64m), 6. Martin Boyle, 10. Ajden Hrustic (Riley McGree, 83m), 11. Awer Mabil (Chris Ikonomidis, 64m) 7. Mathew Leckie (Mitch Duke, 77m)
Unused subs: 4. Rhyan Grant, 9. Jamie Maclaren, 12. Lawrence Thomas (GK),14. Brandon Borrello, 17. Denis Genreau, 18. Danny Vukovic (GK), 19. Harry Souttar, 23. Ruon Tongyik
Manager: Graham Arnold
Yellow cards: None
Red cards: None
22. Sulaiman Abdulghafoor, 13. Fahad Al Reshidi, 15. Hamad Al Qallaf, 4. Khaled Ibrahim, 5. Fahad Al Hajeri, 3. Ahmad Al Dhefiri, 9. Bandar Al Salama, 11. Fahad Al Ebrahim (Muhammad Al-Huwaidi, 84m), 8. Fawaz Al Mubailish (Eid Al Rashidi, 74m), 16. Mubarak Al Faneeni (Yousuf Naser, 74m), 10. Shabaib Al-Khalidi
Unused subs: 1. Khaled Al Rishidi, 23. Saud Al-Janaei, 12. Hamad Al Harbi, 2. Sami Al Saena, 21. Abdulmohsen Al Turkmani, 18. Hussein Ashkanani, 14. Mehdi Dashti, 19. Ahmad Zanki, 17. Bader Al Mutawa
Manager: Andres Carrasco
Yellow cards: Fahad Al Ebrahim
Red cards: None
Image Supplied – Getty