Socceroos unearth new hero as Cahill says goodbye
Update: He's Graham Arnold's architect from Aberdeen who could yet be Australia's Asian Cup go-to goal man.
And on his first start for his adopted country, on his first trip Down Under, Martin Boyle ensured Arnold's Socceroos defeated Lebanon 3-0 to go into camp in the UAE undefeated in his tenure.
The Scottish-born winger nabbed a first-half brace and laid on an assist for super-sub Mat Leckie at ANZ Stadium last night, in an arresting individual display that's already gone some way to alleviating Australia's goal-scoring concerns.
As much as this was Tim Cahill's night - the legend delighted ANZ Stadium's crowd with 11 minutes as skipper - Boyle is already appearing a shrewd piece of recruitment ahead of January's Cup defence.
"We looked all over the world for players and when I went to Hibs ... and spent a day there watching him train it was a no-brainer to convince him to play for Australia," Arnold said.
"He's fit in with the group so well. He's a fantastic kid.
"It was a pretty special night last night when we presented him with his debut jersey and he got it from Timmy. So, as I just said to him, he might have to be No.4 now."
On a night of promise and a couple of shaky moments, Australia started just as luminously as they did in the weekend's 1-1 draw with South Korea, setting the tempo for what may have been a thumping win over the world No.82 side.
But Lebanon were hardly hung, drawn and quartered, and a little added composure and fewer touches would have swollen this scoreline further.
But Arnold's primary objective was clearly experimentation and depth - as he said afterwards, it was "more about the what if" - and he made seven changes to Saturday's starting XI including debutant Rhyan Grant - the 600th Socceroo - and first-time starters Awer Mabil, Mustafa Amini and Boyle.
Boyle almost had his first in the opening minutes when the ball nearly wiggled around goalkeeper Mehdi Khalil in the opening minutes.
The Hibernian teammate of Mark Milligan and Jamie Maclaren was as fluid as he was fast, and all the darting and dashing led to a low drive that took a lucky deflection and bounced straight past Khalil.
From there Australia got forward but also toiled somewhat in combination play, and they could be thankful for the valuable width offered by Grant and Aziz Behich, the latter lashing the side netting off a Mabil cutback.
Earlier, Behich had bent in a beauty of a cross only for the target to elude its receiver Tomi Juric. The goal beckoned for Juric more than once but the incumbent striker simply couldn't get his eye in, not least after the break when he practically tripped over a tap-in.
Up the other end Australia's visitors kept players behind the ball to supplement the odd counter-attack that did not force either Mat Ryan or his halftime replacement Danny Vukovic into a single save all night.
Yet Lebanon, who lost Omar Bugiel to an early hamstring injury, still rattled the Socceroos in moments.
Hassan Maatouk set off on an audacious solo run and was taken care of by a robust Milos Degenek, starting in place of rested new captain Milligan.
Just before halftime Maatouk had considerably more luck getting past Trent Sainsbury before a timely intervention by his central defensive partner Degenek.
The Red Star Belgrade star played a key part in the Socceroos' second goal, hitting the crossbar off an Aaron Mooy corner before Boyle burst again on the rebound and buried his finish.
It wasn't pretty but he wouldn't have cared one bit, for he was soon to orchestrate Australia's third.
On 68 minutes Mooy swept the ball to Boyle on the right and his cross found Leckie who, in his second minute on the pitch, stabbed home on the volley.
As Cahill warmed up to cheers from the 33,268 in attendance, on came Andrew Nabbout, back remarkably early from his World Cup shoulder injury and wasting no time to force Khalil into an excellent high save.
Then the great man came on. He rushed into the box and peeled off for a would-be header. And while there was no cause to punch the corner flag the greatest player of all had his 108th cap.
Get every match of the 2018/19 Hyundai A-League LIVE. Get 1 month free Sport HD plus Entertainment with no lock-in contract and no iQ4 box fee. T&C apply. SIGN UP NOW!