Yengi stars as Socceroos beat Palestine 5-0

Nestory Irankunda becomes Socceroos' second-youngest scorer

Source: Socceroos

Socceroos forward Kusini Yengi scored two goals before Nestory Irankunda added the icing on the cake as Australia posted a 5-0 World Cup qualifier victory over Palestine in Perth.

Yengi opened the scoring in Tuesday night’s clash via a fifth-minute penalty, and he made it 3-0 in the 41st when he produced some fancy footwork to bamboozle the Palestine defence.

The 25-year-old’s beautiful through ball helped set up Martin Boyle for Australia’s fourth goal in the 53rd minute in a comprehensive display from the home side.

Irankunda, who came on in the 70th minute for just his second international cap, scored via the penalty spot in the 88th minute.

The 18-year-old, who has signed with German giants Bayern Munich, celebrated his maiden Socceroos goal with a trademark backflip.

The result meant Australia ended this phase of qualifying with a perfect six wins from six outings, and a dominant 22-0 for-and-against goals record.

Australia was hoping for South Korea to either draw or lose to China in Group C on Tuesday night.

If that result had eventuated, Australia would have jumped ahead of South Korea in the world rankings, thus ensuring the Socceroos would be seeded third in Asia and avoid Japan and Iran in the next phase of qualifying.

But South Korea instead beat China 1-0, meaning the Socceroos will now have one of either Japan, South Korea or Iran in their group for the next phase.

Socceroos coach Graham Arnold made eight changes to his starting line-up from the team that beat Bangladesh 2-0 in Dhaka last week. Only goalkeeper Joe Gauci, Jackson Irvine and Yengi held their spots.

A crowd of 18,261 fans attended Tuesday’s match, and the Palestinian supporters easily drowned out their Australian counterparts.

Palestine’s players were left fuming after the Socceroos were awarded a soft penalty in the third minute when Aziz Behich clattered into his opponent

With no VAR available, the penalty stood. Yengi sent his shot low and to the left to narrowly evade the goalkeeper’s outstretched glove.

Local fans entered the match hoping for some hometown magic, and Adam Taggart delivered it in the 26th minute with a nice one-two move with Martin Boyle.

Boyle controlled Taggart’s lobbed pass with his head before squaring the ball back to the star Perth Glory striker, who made no mistake from close range.

Despite being 2-0 down, Palestine continued to attack hard whenever given the chance, forcing defender Alessandro Circati to make some important blocks.

Palestine’s bad luck continued in the 41st minute when Boyle, who appeared to be in an offside position, set up Yengi’s second goal.

Yengi’s sweet footwork bamboozled his defender, allowing him to nail the goal from close range.

The 3-0 half-time scoreline wasn’t enough to satisfy Australia, and Yengi’s beautiful through ball helped set up a fourth goal in the 53rd minute.

Taggart latched onto Yengi’s pass before unselfishly squaring across to Boyle for a simple tap-in. It meant Boyle had two assists and a goal to his name.

Injury hit in the 57th minute when Taggart lunged for a goal, with the veteran striker gingerly limping off.

“Nothing to worry about. He was fine, he wanted to go back on,” Arnold said of Taggart. “Tags is just such a great finisher.

“There’s a couple of players in the squad who are 33 today, and we’ve still got two years to go [until the World Cup], so they’re question marks. It’s up to them how hard they work and how much they want it to still be involved.

“Tags is 31 and I think he has the capabilities to get through those two years.”


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