(CNN) -- England need just three wickets on the last day of the fifth and final Ashes Test in Sydney to wrap up their first series win in Australia for 24 years.
The home side ended the fourth day on 213 for seven, still needing another 151 runs to avoid a second successive innings defeat after England's win in Melbourne where they retained the Ashes and took a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.
Chris Tremlett dismissed Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson in successive deliveries as England forced an extra half hour of play Thursday, but Steven Smith (24 not out) and Peter Siddle (17 not out) battled to the close.
Tremlett, James Anderson and Tim Bresnan shared six wickets after the farcical run out of Shane Watson for 38 ended his opening partnership with Phil Hughes.
Earlier, England posted their highest score in Australia of 644 to take a massive 366-run lead on first innings.
It was the fourth time they have passed 500 in the series with wicketkeeper Matt Prior becoming their third centurion of the record breaking innings as he made 118.
It was the fastest England Ashes century since Ian Botham in 1981 and rubbed salt into the wound for the demoralized home bowling attack.
He found excellent support from Bresnan (35) and Graeme Swann, who was unbeaten on 36 off just 26 balls when England were finally dismissed.
Watson and Hughes shared a promising stand of 46 to give Australia hope they might offer sterner resistance, but the run-out proved a key moment.
The pair hesitated as they went for a second run and Watson was beaten by a throw from Kevin Pietersen.
The outstanding Anderson, getting late reverse swing, claimed the wickets of debutant Usman Khawaja and acting captain Michael Clarke to take his series tally to a leading 23.
Clarke's disappointing run continued when he gave Prior one of four catches to go for 41.
He has made just 193 runs in five Test matches.
Bresnan claimed Hughes and the vital wicket of Australia's leading series scorer Mike Hussey, caught head-high by Pietersen for 12.
Siddle had to see off a hat-trick as Haddin (30) and Johnson departed to Tremlett, and in partnership with Smith, made sure England's 'Barmy Army' supporters would have until Friday to celebrate final victory.
Before the start of play, England's Paul Collingwood announced his retirement from Test cricket.
The 34-year-old, who will continue to play one-day and Twenty20 internationals, has had a disappointing series with the bat, but averages nearly 41 runs in his 68-Test career.
A useful medium pace bowler, he has taken 96 Test wickets, as well as forging a reputation as being one of the best fielders in the world, pulling off a number of memorable catches.
Collingwood captained England to their world Twenty20 victory in the West Indies last year and is expected to play a key role as they attempt to double up in the 50-over World Cup which starts next month in the sub-continent.