LONDON (AFP) – Joe Root captured two wickets, including the prize scalp of Australia captain Michael Clarke, after making a dominating 180 as England eyed a 2-0 Ashes series lead at Lord's on Sunday.
Australia were 136 for six at tea on the fourth day, still needing a further 447 runs to reach their colossal victory target of 583.
No side has made more to win in the fourth innings of a Test than the West Indies' 418 for seven against Australia at St John's in 2002/03.
It seemed Australia might at least deny Ashes-holders England a wicket in Sunday's second session.
But shortly before tea, part-time off-spinner Root struck twice, with Yorkshire colleague Tim Bresnan also on target, as Australia lost three wickets for two runs in 23 deliveries.
Root removed both Clarke (51) and Usman Khawaja (54) for tea figures of two for eight in four overs.
The 22-year-old, bowling from around the wicket, spun one outside Clarke's pads with the star batsman obligingly turning the ball to opposing captain Alastair Cook, who had just stationed himself at leg slip.
Clarke, missed on two, was out for 51, featuring seven fours, after putting on 98 for the fourth wicket with Khawaja, who shortly afterwards could do nothing but nick a sharply spun delivery to James Anderson at second slip.
Then seamer Bresnan had Steven Smith, off a thin inside edge, well held by diving wicketkeeper Matt Prior for one off what became the last ball before tea to leave Brad Haddin nought not out at the interval as a now sun-drenched capacity crowd caught their breath.
Smith challenged the verdict but, in Australia's latest unsuccessful brush with the Decision Review System (DRS), he was given out again.
England now needed just four more wickets to go 2-0 up in this five-match series following their 14-run win at Trent Bridge last week.
No side has come from 2-0 down to win an Ashes series since a Don Bradman inspired Australia did just that to triumph 3-2 on home soil in 1936/37.
Australia, shot out for just 128 in their first innings, were only able to resist England for fewer than seven overs Sunday before Shane Watson was lbw to Anderson for 20 to add the all-rounder's numerous collection of leg-before exits in Test cricket.
And 24 for one soon became 36 for three.
Off-spinner Graeme Swann, who took five wickets in Australia's first innings, struck fifth ball on Sunday when left-hander Chris Rogers played no shot to a delivery that didn't turn but carried on straight to hit his off stump.
Swann then had Phil Hughes lbw for one.
Not for the first time, Clarke came in with Australia in dire straits.
And he should have been out on two when he went down the pitch to Swann only for Prior to miss the stumping chance.
England had resumed Sunday on 333 for five, already a lead of 566, with Root 178 not out and Yorkshire team-mate Jonny Bairstow 11 not out.
There was no immediate declaration with Root -- whose century was the second of his Test career -- given the chance to get to 200.
But when he holed out off Ryan Harris, to end a 338-ball innings including 18 fours and two sixes that spanned nearly eight hours, Cook called a halt.