SYDNEY - Hosts Australia swept into the quarter-finals of the Asian Cup in some style on Tuesday, with a 4-0 hammering of Oman at Stadium Australia that ensured South Korea would go through from Group A with them.
Midfielder Matt McKay and striker Robbie Kruse struck inside three minutes just before the half-hour mark, Mark Milligan converted a penalty on the stroke of half-time and replacement striker Tomi Juric added the fourth in a one-sided second half.
Having beaten Kuwait 4-1 to open their campaign last Friday, the Socceroos have a healthy advantage in goals scored over the South Koreans and will just need a draw to win the group when the teams meet in Brisbane on Saturday.
More than that, though, Australia showed enough against a team that has caused them problems in the past to suggest their ambitions should not be confined to reaching the last eight for the third straight tournament.
Australia midfielder Massimo Luongo, man of the match against the Kuwaitis, played only 50 minutes but contributed to both of the first two goals and Kruse could have had a hat-trick on another night.
Oman had the first shot on target in the third minute, Raed Saleh's raking half volley from outside the penalty box drawing an athletic save from Mat Ryan and confirming the goalkeeper's strong form.
That proved to be pretty much Oman's only attacking contribution to the match and they will now go home with Kuwait after their final group game in Newcastle on Saturday.
After 27 minutes, the Australian pressure finally told when Luongo swung in a cross from the left which Trent Sainsbury headed down towards goal, leaving McKay the simplest of finishes.
Three minutes later, Luongo was again the provider with Kruse taking his through ball on the hip before firing it into the net through the legs of Ali Al-Habsi.
Australia had to wait until stoppage time to go three up when Tim Cahill was hauled down trying to reach Kruse's cross and Milligan, who replaced the injured Mile Jedinak in midfield and as penalty-taker, stepped up to convert from the spot.
Striker Juric, who replaced Cahill after 50 minutes, added the fourth after 70 minutes, turning winger Mathew Leckie's beautifully weighted cross into the net at the far post.
Australia coach Ange Postecoglou might have wanted a bit more of a cutting edge inside the box as the Socceroos piled on the pressure in the second half, but will be satisfied with his team's fourth win in his 14 matches in charge.