BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) -- England needs 117 more runs to win the third Ashes test after dismissing Australia for 265 in its second innings on Friday with Steven Finn taking 6-79.
At lunch on the third day, England was 4-0, chasing 121 for victory and a 2-1 series lead.
Resuming on 168-7, Australia scored freely in sunshine.
Peter Nevill and Mitchell Starc shared a 64-run partnership before Finn again made the breakthrough, claiming Nevill for 59, with Australia still only 72 in front at 217-8.
Starc helped to push the lead past 100 with an impressive 58, his fifth test half-century, and gave himself something to bowl at when he was last man out.
England clearly missed fast bowler James Anderson, who retired in mid-over on Thursday with a left side strain, and was also out of the fourth test at Trent Bridge, starting next Thursday.
After avoiding a two-day humiliation, Australia came out on Friday and attacked. The tourists smashed 19 in the first two overs, and 39 in six -- possibly sowing some doubt among England's batsmen after Mitchell Johnson's hostile short-pitched performance in the first innings.
A four brought up Nevill's patient 50 in 126 balls, but he was lucky to survive on 53 when the wicketkeeper-batsman gloved a Stuart Broad delivery to a diving Jos Buttler. The umpire gave not out, England had no appeals left, and Broad missed his 300th test wicket.
Finn got Nevill, and Buttler did well to catch him out for a 147-ball 59, his first test half-century in his second test.
Australia continued to frustrate, adding 28 and 20 for the last two wickets, until Starc chipped to extra cover, giving spinner Moeen Ali his first wicket of the match in the last over before the new ball was available.
At lunch, England captain Alastair Cook was 4 not out, and Adam Lyth, averaging 12 in the series, was yet to score.