Jamie Maclaren scored his first goal for Australia as the Hibs striker helped the Socceroos to a 3-0 win over Palestine in Dubai on Friday.
Graham Arnold’s side suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Jordan in their opening game of the Asian Cup, but made no mistake against Noureddine Ould Ali’s side at the Maktoum bin Rashid Al Maktoum Stadium.
Maclaren’s goal was made in Scotland; Celtic midfielder Tom Rogic flighting a ball into the box which the Hibs forward headed beyond Palestine ‘keeper Rami Hamadeh in the 18th minute to put the Socceroos in front.
Awer Mabil added a second two minutes later, converting a Chris Ikonomidis pass from the left wing at the back post.
The same player missed a glorious chance for his second and Australia’s third when he ballooned over from close range following good work from Maclaren.
The Australians piled the pressure on and Abdallah Jaber came close to putting through his own net as he deflected Rhyan Grant’s cross onto his own crossbar, but a third goal did arrive for Australia in the 90th minute.
Ikonomidis notched a second assist as his cross was met by Apostolos Giannou, an 81st-minute replacement for Maclaren, whose header put some gloss on the scoreline.
Maclaren’s Easter Road team-mate Mark Milligan captained the side and played the full 90 minutes in defensive midfield alongside former Celtic and Ross County man Jackson Irvine.
The win lifts Arnold’s side to second spot in Group B, two points clear of final opponents Syria against whom a draw will be enough to seal qualification to the last 16.