Kusini Yengi nets in the second minute for the Socceroos who hammered Lebanon 5-0. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS
  • soccer

Goodwin steals the show as Socceroos thump Lebanon 5-0

Alex Mitchell March 26, 2024

Australia are through to the final round of World Cup qualification after a masterful display from winger Craig Goodwin led them to a 5-0 win against Lebanon.

At Canberra’s GIO Stadium, Goodwin scored two goals and created another two with gorgeous deliveries into the box to get the Socceroos the comfortable result.

Coach Graham Arnold said Goodwin’s increased leadership ability made him an invaluable asset for the side moving forward as they chase a sixth consecutive trip to the FIFA World Cup finals.

 The Socceroos enjoyed a dream night against Lebanon in Canberra. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

They are now guaranteed a berth in third-round qualifiers which start in September, where a top-two finish in a six-team group will carry them to the 2026 showpiece tournament.

A dream night for his side saw both Kusini Yengi and John Iredale net their first international goals as Australia continue to search for a long-term answer up front.

Goodwin’s masterclass saw him set up Yengi inside two minutes, create the havoc that led to an own goal early in the second half, and then score a gorgeous dipping volley less than a minute later to put the team 3-0 up.

A late tap-in to seal the 5-0 rout was everything his near-flawless display deserved.

“When I knew Craig Goodwin younger, he didn’t believe in himself like he does these days,” Arnold said.

“He’s a top quality player but he’s a fantastic person and a great leader and in and around the dressing room and on the pitch … but his delivery of set pieces is fantastic.

“The conversation we had after the Asian Cup was pretty much you only have a short career in life, don’t throw it away now … players have limited time for their careers, and I think he’s in his prime.”

 Craig Goodwin was outstanding for Australia in the 5-0 win over Lebanon. Image by Lukas Coch/AAP PHOTOS 

A sold-out Canberra crowd only had to wait two minutes for Australia to lead, Yengi jabbing a close-range effort onto the post before shinning home the rebound.

Ajdin Hrustic and Harry Souttar each spurned chances created by sublime Goodwin balls but those wasted chances mattered little, another teasing set-piece delivery forcing Lebanese defender Bassel Jradi to turn the ball into his own net.

Arnold made four team tweaks including Goodwin’s inclusion up front, and used the second-half lead to give debuts to Patrick Yazbek and Josh Nisbet.

Yazbek made an early impact, whipping in a perfect cross that Iredale could easily turn home, before Goodwin had  simple back-post tap-in for his double on 81 minutes.

Five days on from a 2-0 win against the same opponent in Sydney, the Socceroos looked far more dangerous in attack.

But Arnold wasn’t completely satisfied, begging his team to continue developing a killer instinct that would let them put games to bed even earlier.

“A great start, we get the goal early and should have been up three or 4-0 at half-time,” he said.

“This is stuff I’ve been driving with the boys about raising our standards and when I say that, it’s about taking those opportunities to kill teams off, not letting them stay in the game.

“After the first game it was all about the lack of penetration in behind and so that’s what we worked on … it’s about if a player is on the ball, you don’t stand still, you move and make forward runs and penetrate.”

Conceding early against the Socceroos for a second straight game, Lebanon could have equalised on 14 minutes but attacking option Nader Matar fired his shot into the side-netting.