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2018 International Friendly, International Friendly
  • Mathew Leckie (32', 72')
  • Andrew Nabbout (54')
  • Jakub Jugas (80' OG)

Mathew Leckie stars as Australia thrash Czech Republic

Australia are primed and ready for their World Cup opener against France. Robert Cianflone/Getty Images

Australia recorded a morale-boosting win over Czech Republic in Austria on Friday, though the 4-0 scoreline -- with Mat Leckie scoring twice -- did flatter the Socceroos somewhat.

Of course, with a relatively new boss at the helm in former Netherlands boss Bert van Marwijk, the greatest interest around this World Cup warm-up game was always going to be the starting lineup rather than the result.

With regular skipper Mile Jedinak resting, having joined the squad late following Aston Villa's Championship play-off final loss to Fulham, Van Marwijk opted for Massimo Luongo alongside Aaron Mooy in central midfield, with Tom Rogic in a more advanced role.

Trent Sainsbury took the captain's armband in Jedinak's absence, and he was partnered by usual midfield fulcrum Mark Milligan in central defence. Meanwhile, there was another surprise at right-back with Western Sydney Wanderers' Josh Risdon getting the nod.

Perhaps it was those few shock inclusions, or the fact that the team had been focusing predominantly on defence since arriving at their pre-World Cup camp in Turkey, but Australia lacked any sort of attacking cohesion in the opening stages.

Indeed, Czech Republic certainly enjoyed the better of the first half exchanges, and should have gone ahead on 21 minutes when Antonin Barak blazed his shot well over the bar from a couple of yards out.

Arguably against the run of play, the Socceroos took the lead in the 32nd minute. Importantly, the chance came when Rogic got on the ball with plenty of time for the first occasion in the contest. Rogic played in Risdon beautifully down the right, allowing Robbie Kruse to nod it across goal for Leckie to tap in.

The second half was a completely different story. Australia dominated in almost every aspect of the game, doubling their lead not long after the half-time break through Nabbout, who surely secured his place in the World Cup squad.

Leckie then sealed his brace when Mooy won the ball on halfway and pushed forward quickly to release the Hertha Berlin winger, before the fourth goal came via a Jakub Jugas own goal from a Milos Degenek cross.

Most pleasing for Van Marwijk will have been that all three second-half goals came from mistakes made by Czech players under pressure from the Socceroos' hard pressing.

Less certain, though, is which fringe players will miss the cut for the 23-man squad to be named in the coming days. Striker Jamie Maclaren failed to impress in his second-half cameo, while Tomi Juric, who did not feature in this match, must prove his fitness before booking his ticket to Russia.

There may be more hope for Melbourne City starlet Daniel Arzani, who provides an element of dynamism that could prove valuable for Van Marwijk off the bench. If Arzani is included, it could be the end of the line for the likes of Dimi Petratos and Nikita Rukavytsya.

All of that will be revealed soon, of course. For now, Van Marwijk and his charges will rest well, knowing they have made decent strides toward where they need to be in order to face the might of France in Kazan on June 16.

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