Australia 2 Iraq 0 – Perth turns out for Socceroos

Massimo Luongo celebrates his opening goal. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images
The 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Australia and Iraq at Perth Oval. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images
Trent Sainsbury. Photo: Getty Images
Tomi Juric. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images
Massimo Luongo celebrates his opening goal. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images The 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifier match between Australia and Iraq at Perth Oval. Picture: Will Russell/Getty Images Trent Sainsbury. Photo: Getty Images Tomi Juric. Picture: Paul Kane/Getty Images

SECOND half goals to Massimo Luongo and Tomi Juric secured Australia victory in its opening Asian Football Confederation Round Three 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Iraq in front of a near sellout Perth Oval crowd.

Juric nearly opened the scoring after just 15 seconds but his effort was well saved by Iraqi keeper Mohammed Hameed, in what proved a rare chance in a sloppy first half from both sides.

First half frustration gave way on the hour mark when Luongo neatly tucked away a close-range chance after good lead up play by Juric, who had himself missed a gilt-edged chance to put the Socceroos ahead just minutes earlier.

Juric made amends five minutes later when he poked home the second goal after Mark Milligan cleverly flicked on Aaron Mooy’s corner.

Mooy was the Socceroos’ most industrious player, helping his side retain 72 per cent possession for the match and bringing teammates into the game.

The comfortable 2-0 scoreline ensured the majority of the 18,923 strong crowd went home happy, but could have been more, with the woodwork denying them twice; Matthew Leckie’s impressive headed effort from a Brad Smith cross hit the upright after 26 minutes, while Mooy’s long-range strike early in the second half smacked against the crossbar.

Perth’s Trent Sainsbury told reporters post match he had “never been so nervous” before a game before.

“I’ve never been so nervous before a game, more nervous than even that Asian Cup final. Playing in front of my friends and family is the first time I’ve done it so I was very nervous,” he said

“You can see patches where (Iraq) were frustrating us and we were trying to force a few things, myself in particular, and it was just about getting to know each other in that backline. But in the second half they couldn’t stick with us for the 90 minutes and it showed with our passing game and intensity to close them down once they made a mistake.”

The Socceroos now take on United Arab Emirates in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.