MELBOURNE Tomi Juric has long been touted as a possible successor to veteran Tim Cahill at the apex of Australia's attack.
The only thing holding back the Switzerland-based striker has been an awkward lack of goals.
Juric finally broke an international scoring drought dating back to the 2015 Asian Cup on Thursday with a second-half volley that sealed the Socceroos' 2-0 win over Iraq in their World Cup qualifier.
Latching onto a corner from midfielder Aaron Mooy, the 25-year-old's celebration showed more relief than joy, as he jogged away from the goal and glanced up at the night sky at Perth's Rectangular Stadium.
For the greater part of the match, Juric's 18 months of frustration had appeared destined to continue, with a close-range shot deflected by a hopeful left glove from keeper Mohamed Hameed early on.
The rangy FC Luzern forward later contrived to miss the simplest of chances at the goal-mouth in the 57th minute, squandering a well-weighted cross from Massimo Luongo by firing left of the post.
He offered Luongo a similarly gift-wrapped chance the following minute and watched his team mate duly score the Socceroos' opener.
Seven minutes later, Juric's agony was over as he hurtled in to poke in the winner with his right foot.
"It was a great way for me to come back today," Juric told host broadcaster Fox Sports.
"We showed in the first half how we can move the ball but sometimes we got a little bit impatient and tried to force the pass. We lost possession too easily.
"But we showed in the second half if we keep our patience we get our chances and we can finish them off.
"It could have been a few more (goals) but unfortunately they didn't go in. But it's a great result for us to start off this campaign."
Juric's goal was just his third in 17 internationals, a modest strike-rate compared to Cahill's 47 from 91 matches.
But head coach Ange Postecoglou will hope the drought-breaker can open the flood-gates for Juric, with Cahill set to turn 37 this year and neither Mathew Leckie nor Apo Giannou staking strong claims up front.
"(Juric) worked his backside off and I was thinking about taking him off after he missed that (57th minute) chance," said Postecoglou.
"We were going to make a substitution just before the corner and I said 'leave him on' and I'm pleased he got the goal."
(Editing by Greg Stutchbury)