Veteran forward Tim Cahill scored his second international hat-trick as Australia set aside security worries to thrash Bangladesh 4-0 Tuesday in a one-sided 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Dhaka. (Click here for latest Football stories)
Cahill completed his hat-trick inside 37 minutes after the start and captain Mile Jedinak scored the other goal as the visitors sealed victory in the first half in front of a boisterous near-packed crowd at the Bangabandhu National Stadium.
The build-up to the match was overshadowed by security concerns after Western nations alerted their citizens about a terrorist strike in the Muslim majority nation, prompting the Australian cricket team to postpone a two-match Test series in October.
Tensions also rose after a spate of killings of foreigners, policemen and a blast at a Shiite shrine that left two people dead -- attacks claimed by Islamic state group. The government said the group does not have any presence in Bangladesh.
Australian football officials also flagged their concerns to world football governing body FIFA and the Asian Football Confederation. The match was given the go-ahead after Bangladesh assured the visitors of "unprecedented" security.
Ahead of the match, all the shops and markets at and around the stadium were shut down, traffic was halted on key roads and each of about 20,000 spectators were body-searched before they were allowed to enter the stadium.
The victory was much needed for Australia who started the match one behind group leader Jordan. Forfeiting the match due to security concerns would have cost the Socceroos three crucial points.
"We came here to win the game. It was difficult conditions for us tonight," Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said after the match.
"In the first half it was good but the second half we were a little scrappy. In the end I was happy with the performance with the players, three points for us and with it we go home," he added.
Cahill who turns 36 next month won a second consecutive start. He opened the score in the sixth minute with a neat header and then completed the hat-trick with a scrappy goal in the 33rd minute and a tap in the near post in the 37th minute.
The three goals took his record Socceroos' goal tally to 45. He also scored in the team's 3-0 win against Kyrgyzstan in Canberra last Thursday.
Captain Mile Jedinak made the score 4-0 with a simple header into an empty net from close range in the 43rd minute.
Australia rested brilliant Aaron Mooy and Massimo Luongo in the second half, allowing Bangladesh some space in the midfield and the hosts made good use of it to avoid conceding further goals.
With the defeat, Bangladesh remained at the bottom of their group with just one point from seven matches.