Massimo Luongo for the Socceroos and Ahmad Ibrahim for Iraq.
Massimo Luongo for the Socceroos and Ahmad Ibrahim for Iraq. TONY MCDONOUGH

Socceroos another step closer to cup

FOOTBALL: The Socceroos' long journey to the World Cup in Russia in 2018 faces a major test next week in Abu Dhabi against the United Arab Emirates.

In third-round matches of Asian World Cup qualifying on Thursday night, Australia beat Iraq 2-0 in Perth, while the UAE defeated Japan 2-1 in Tokyo with goals to Ahmed Khalil.

The Socceroos have never beaten the Japanese, who are favourites with Australia to progress, on their home soil.

Coach Ange Postecoglou is likely to make changes to the Socceroos' line-up for next Wednesday morning's (AEST) clash with the UAE.

Postecoglou is likely to look to his bench which included Tim Cahill, Robbie Kruse and Mathew Spiranovic.

"I expect all the boys will recover pretty well. The beauty of it is we have some real depth on the bench,” he said. "We've got some guys that can come in if needed.”

The Socceroos always looked the stronger side against Iraq, but it took almost an hour for midfielder Massimo Luongo to open the scoring in Perth.

Tomi Juric scored another goal six minutes later to give the Asian champions a comfortable victory.

"I was pleased with both performance and result,” Postecoglou said.

"I thought we were dominating the game. The (half-time) message was to keep going. At some point we knew they'd run out of petrol because you can't keep going at that pace.

"We regained composure and wore them down.”

Soceroos v UAE, Wednesday (1.30am AEST)


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