Tim Cahill hat trick sees Australia ease past Bangladesh in AFC WCQ
Australia's record-scorer Tim Cahill grabbed a first half hat trick as the Asian champions eased to a 4-0 victory over Bangladesh in an AFC 2018 World Cup qualifier in Dhaka on Tuesday night.
Cahill took his Socceroos' tally to 45 goals in 88 international matches as he opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a simple header before adding to his account in the 32nd and 38th minutes.
Captain Mile Jedinak grabbed Australia's fourth goal two minutes before half-time before a more resilient defensive performance from Bangladesh kept the visitors scoreless in the second half.
It was Cahill's first Australia hat trick since 2004 and comes just two weeks before his 36th birthday.
The victory was Australia's fifth in six matches and puts them top of Group B after Jordan's 1-0 defeat away to Krygyzstan, with Anton Zemlyanukhin's 48th minute goal proving the difference between the two nations in Bishkek.
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou handed Perth Glory right-back Josh Risdon his first cap in a match that went ahead amidst heightened security in Dhaka.
Just like the Sept. 3 game in Perth where Australia defeated the Bangladeshis 5-0 it took them only six minutes to take the lead. A lovely free kick from Aaron Mooy was met by a well-placed header from Cahill.
Once again, Melbourne City midfielder Mooy was Australia's chief creator before being making way for James Troisi early in the second half.
The Socceroos' best chance of a disappointing second half performance fell to Jedinak whose overhead kick was parried away by Bangladesh goalkeeper Mohammed Shahidul Alam in the 80th minute.
China's hopes of reaching the 2018 World Cup were dealt a huge blow as they were held to a 0-0 draw in Hong Kong in a tense Group C encounter.
China hit the woodwork twice and had a goal controversially disallowed but just could not find a way past a resolute Hong Kong backline.
The result means that China, looking to add to their only appearance at the tournament in 2002, are now seven points behind group leaders Qatar and three adrift of Hong Kong in second with two games remaining.
The eight group winners and four best second placed teams will progress to the next stage of Asian qualifying.
With China's draw, Qatar were confirmed as Group C winners thanks to a 3-0 win, a sixth successive victory, over Bhutan. The 2022 World Cup hosts are the fist Asian team to secure their spot in the final round of 2018 qualifying.
Elsewhere, Keisuke Honda grabbed a late goal in Phnom Penh as Japan defeated Cambodia 2-0 while 10-man Singapore lost at home to Syria in another Group E match.
Saudi Arabia thrashed Timor-Leste 10-0 as United Arab Emirates secured a 2-1 victory over Malaysia behind closed doors at Shah Alam Stadium in Group A.
Turkmenistan won 2-1 over Oman thanks to Artur Gevorkyan and Suleyman Muhadov and there were comfortable away wins for Iran, prevailing 6-0 over Guam, and 2007 Asian champions Iraq, who ran out 2-0 winners against Chinese Taipei despite missing captain Andranik Teymourian and three other players, reportedly due to visa issues.
Two goals each for Tottenham's Son Heung-min and Swansea's Ki Sung-yeung helped South Korea to a 5-0 win over Laos.
Goals from Aziz Haydarov, Server Djeparov and Stanislav Andreev -- before Ahmed Al Sarori's consolation -- saw Uzbekistan win 3-1 over Yemen, while in the same group North Korea beat Bahrain 2-0.
The qualifier between Myanmar and Kuwait did not take place, with a statement from FIFA reading: "The matter has been referred to the FIFA Disciplinary Committee for its consideration. Further information will follow in due course."