Hibs star steals World Cup show as Socceroos soar past Palestine

Boyle was Man of the Match in World Cup win.Boyle was Man of the Match in World Cup win.
Boyle was Man of the Match in World Cup win.
A-League suitors sure to be tempted by stand-out showing

Hibs star Martin Boyle turned in a stunning Man of the Match performance for Australia as they routed Palestine in a World Cup qualifier in Perth, bagging a goal and two assists. The Socceroos attacker, who spoke this week about his long-term ambition to play in the A-League, was the stand-out performer as the Aussies breezed into the third round of qualifying with a 5-0 win.

Having been rested for last week’s 2-0 away win over Bangladesh, Boyle stormed back into the starting XI in front of over 18,000 fans in Western Australia. And he produced a scintillating display of direct running, fast feet and sharp passing.

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The 31-year-old, coming off the back of a club campaign disrupted by a niggling knee injury, a month on Asian Cup duty with the Socceroos in mid-season, and a sickening concussion sustained in a Scottish Cup loss to Rangers, was electrifying from the start. He set up his team’s second and third goals, scored by Adam Taggart and Kusini Yengi respectively, to put the hosts in control at before half-time.

Boyle then eased his team four clear of their opponents, scoring with a tap-in early in the second half. He still had time to squander a chance to bag a second for himself, failing to beat the keeper in a one-on-one, before being cheered off with just over 20 minutes remaining – and then rising to applaud as his replacement, Bayern Munich-bound teenager Nestory Irankunda, scored his first Socceroos goal by converting from the penalty spot soon after.

Aussie head coach Graham Arnold, who has led his team through the second phase of Asian qualifying with a perfect record of six wins from six, scoring 22 and not conceding a single goal along the way, praised the Hibs player, acknowledging: “Boyley missed a lot of games through injury and concussion. But he played so well tonight.”

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Boyle – one of the international players who will have extra time off while the rest of the squad report for pre-season testing on Friday week - will have racked up over 40,000 air miles by the time he returns from a World Cup double-header that included a holding camp in Thailand, Arnold stressing: “I have to thank the players. Their seasons are finished, they’re on their holidays. But they came out three or four days early to get acclimatised. That just shows the culture that’s there.”