Australia earned their first win against Oman as an Asian with a 4-0 win in front of a vocal crowd at Stadium Australia.
The game started out with attacking intent from both sides and Paul Le Guen’s side scared the Australians within the first three minutes, with a shot from outside the box that forced a stretched-out save from goalkeeper Mathew Ryan.
Australia quickly grew more comfortable and began to hold more of the ball, making heavy use of the flanks and focusing on crossing the ball into the penalty area.
It almost paid off for the Socceroos in the 23rd minute, with Tim Cahill rising over the Oman defence, but unable to keep his balance to direct the ball towards the target.
But it only took an extra four minutes before Australia scored their first goal in Sydney, with Matt McKay tapping in Trent Sainsbury’s header beyond experienced goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi.
Another four minutes passed and Robbie Kruse doubled the lead, controlling Massimo Luongo’s chipped pass with his hip in one of the side’s first central attacking plays and sliding towards the ball to send it into the back of the net to the roar of 50,276 people at Stadium Australia.
A speculative shot by the Bayer Leverkusen forward in the 40th minute skimmed the outside of the upright, while fellow Germany-based forward Mathew Leckie had a chance that he sent wide after losing his footing.
Japanesee referee Ryuji Sato caught a glimpse of ire from the fans moments before half time, adjudging a penalty on Tim Cahill before Mark Milligan volleyed the ball into the net, disallowing the goal and enforcing the spot kick decision. Milligan stepped up to the spot and made no mistake to send the Socceroos into the changing rooms with an extra goal in their favour.
Oman started the second half similarly to the first, trying to hold more possession and create some attacking movement, also making two half time changes with the idea to add more numbers in the midfield.
It was however another substitute, Western Sydney Wanderers striker Tomi Juric, who put the Australians beyond comfort, hitting Leckie’s outside-of-the-boot cross with aplomb after 70 minutes.
Juric almost got on the scoresheet again eight minutes later, when he headed a Mark Bresciano corner from close range, but Al-Habsi had quicker reflexes than in his first half performance and palmed away the effort.
Utrecht attacking midfielder Tommy Oar came close a minute from the end of regulation time, with a long-range shot that struck the wrong side of the net’s roof.
Abdul Sallam Al Mukhaini had the best chance for the Omanis within the additional time, but his header failed to hit the target to the defender’s despair.
Robbie Kruse finished the game with a chance that deflected over the crossbar, leaving Ryuji Sato declaring an end to the relatively controlled performance.
The emphatic Socceroos win guarantees Oman’s exit after the group stages, while putting Australia comfortably on top of Group A with a +7 goal difference. The host nation will next travel to Brisbane to face second-place Korea Republic on January 17 to decide who will top the group and face the second-placed Group B team in the quarterfinals.