An Asian Cup quarter-final showdown against either Saudi Arabia or South Korea awaits the Socceroos after their 4-0 win over Indonesia.
Despite the Indonesians having the better of the midfield battle for periods of the round-of-16 clash at Jassim bin Hamad Stadium, the Australians stretched their unbeaten run to eight matches and inched closer to tournament glory.
The Socceroos needed the help of an own goal from Thailand-born Indonesia defender Elkan Baggott to take the lead inside the opening quarter of an hour.
Winger Martin Boyle doubled Australia’s lead on the stroke of half-time with his second goal in two matches after also scoring in his side’s 1-1 Group B draw with Uzbekistan last Tuesday.
Substitute Craig Goodwin – who made his first appearance since the Socceroos’ opening match of the tournament, a 2-0 win over India – sealed the win in the 89th minute with a well-taken volley.
Towering defender Harry Souttar provided the icing of the cake in stoppage-time, heading home a Goodwin free-kick.
However, the scoreline wasn’t a true indication of the contest, with the Indonesians performing better than a four-goal loss would suggest on paper.
The Socceroos will again need to improve if they are to prevail over either Saudi Arabia or Uzbekistan on Saturday morning (AEDT).
The Australians will have the advantage of a couple of extra days rest between matches, with the Saudi Arabia-South Korea round-of-16 battle not taking place until Wednesday morning (AEDT).
But the Socceroos will still need to step up a gear if they are to progress to the semi-finals.
Indonesia looked the better in possession, but it was Australia who took the lead – in fortuitous circumstances – in the 12th minute.
Midfielder Jackson Irvine forced his way into the opposition’s penalty area before delivering a low cross that took a wicked deflection off Thailand-born Indonesia defender Elkan Baggott before finding the back of the net.
The Socceroos doubled their lead on the stroke of half-time through Boyle, who headed home a cross from the recalled Gethin Jones at the far post.
Indonesia’s best chance of the first half came in just the sixth minute when striker Rafael Struick got in front of Socceroos defender Harry Souttar to be first to a near-post cross from Justin Hubner.
However, much to Australia’s relief, Struick’s clever flick was just off target.
The Indonesians didn’t create much in the second half, with the Socceroos’ two late goals sealing the win.
Socceroos coach Graham Arnold made two changes to the team that started in Australia’s draw with Uzbekistan.
Despite impressing Arnold with his performance at centre-forward, Kusini Yengi dropped back to the bench, with Melbourne Victory ace Bruno Fornaroli getting his first start for the tournament after three appearances off the bench.
The other change was in defence, with right-back Gethin Jones recalled at the expense of Nathaniel Atkinson.
Jones was forced off in the second half with a suspected groin injury, with Atkinson being his replacement.