Jamie Maclaren of Australia celebrates a goal against Bangladesh during their 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Melbourne, Australia, November 16, 2023. /CFP
Australia crushed Bangladesh 7-0, while Japan thrashed Myanmar 5-0 during the Asian qualifiers for the 2026 World Cup on Thursday.
Jamie Maclaren came off the bench to score a second half hat-trick and Mitchell Duke scored a brace late for Australia in the first half at Melbourne Rectangular Stadium.
In front of a crowd of 20,876, the hosts were on the board in the fourth minute courtesy of a Harry Souttar header, the towering defender rising to meet a pinpoint Craig Goodwin free kick from just outside the area.
Brandon Borrello doubled the lead in the 20th minute when he latched onto a neat Connor Metcalfe cross and slipped a shot by goalkeeper Mitul Marma.
Duke then scored twice in four minutes, nodding in a fine header from another Metcalfe assist before firing in a rebound off the post when Borrello sent a rocket thudding into the woodwork.
Maclaren did all the damage in the second half, tapping in a Jordan Bos cross shortly after the restart before pouncing again in the 70th minute when a Massimo Luongo shot pinged off the keeper.
Thursday's match also marked the 50th anniversary of Australia sealing qualification for the 1974 World Cup, the nation's first appearance at the global showpiece.
"Overall it was a good performance but I think we still need to be a bit more ruthless in front of goal," Graham Arnold, coach of Team Australia, told reporters.
"It could have been double-figures easily, and it should have been."
Ayase Ueda (L) of Japan jumps for the ball during the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Myanmar in Suita, Japan, November 16, 2023. /CFP
Japan thrashed Myanmar 5-0 on Thursday to get their bid to reach an eighth straight World Cup off to an emphatic start.
Feyenoord striker Ayase Ueda scored a hat-trick as the hosts shrugged off the absence of injured Brighton winger Kaoru Mitoma in Osaka.
Daichi Kamada and Ritsu Doan also got on the scoresheet as Japan took their goal tally to 29 in their last seven games, all of which they have won.
Japan's next qualifier against Syria will be held in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday.
"We had chances to score more goals," said Hajime Moriyasu, coach of Team Japan.
"We have to be able to create more opportunities and reduce the amount of times we find ourselves in difficulty."
(With input from agencies)