Tim Cahill
Fans hold up a sign supporting Australia's Tim Cahill during their Asian Cup final soccer match against South Korea at the Stadium Australia in Sydney January 31, 2015. Reuters/Steve Christo (AUSTRALIA - Tags: SPORT SOCCER)

Australia will head into the next round of the World Cup qualification after the Socceroos defeated a gallant Tajikistan 3-0 on Wednesday in Dushanbe. Coach Ange Postecoglou’s side overcame a tough Central Asian minnow team before grinding out three points to remain unbeaten in the group stage of the Asian Cup.

The Socceroos struggled during the first-half of the match against Tajikistan, who frustrated the Australians by holding them out for nearly an hour. Both teams headed into the second period scoreless, but the Socceroos bounced back after Mark Milligan broke the stalemate in the 57th minute mark followed by a double from captain Tim Cahill in the 73rd and 90th minute marks consecutively, sealing Australia’s victory in tough conditions at the Republican Central Stadium.

Despite being tied at nil at first, Postecoglou was clear that the Socceroos weren’t concerned by their inability to score. The Australian coach revealed that the scoreless first half was mostly because of his team’s unfamiliarity with the artificial pitch, which led to overblown crosses and miss-hit balls in the final third.

"We were floating stuff in instead of hitting them with purpose and pace, but we have persevered and I think our last two goals in particular were really good team goals," Postecoglou said, the ABC reported. "I'm looking at the game and whether we were controlling the game and we certainly were.”

Postecoglou made some changes in the Socceroos’ lineup that thrashed Bangladesh 5-0 in Perth last week. Cahill, who came off the bench against the Bangladeshis, replaced Nathan Burnes in the XI, while Matt McKay came into the midfield for Tommy Rogic, who was the star of the win against Bangladesh, and Ryan McGowan for Tarek Elrich at rightback.

A refreshed Cahill showed up in the game and made his presence felt after scoring two consecutive goals to bury Tajikistan. Cahill replicated a glimpse of his wonderful Chinese club form, but admitted that the increased role of Burns, Rogic and Matthew Leckie lifts a burden from his shoulders.

“I think the main thing is we’ve always believed in the group of players,” Cahill told The Guardian. “They’ll get their game time and obviously get to show the world what they’re made of.”

Australia is now at the top of Group B after three consecutive wins and will face Jordan away next month. Socceroos will assure a spot in the third and final round of Asian qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup in Russia if they win the match against Jordan.

Contact the writer at feedback@ibtimes.com.au, or let us know what you think below.