Australia smash Uzbekistan to surge into Asian Cup final
Australia have completely dominated Uzbekistan, winning 6-0 on their way to the 2011 Asian Cup final. It started perfectly for the Socceroos on Australia Day when Harry Kewell netted in the fifth minute before Sasa Ognenovski doubled the advantage in the 35th minute with his maiden international goal.
They had to wait another half-hour for the next goal when David Carney got in on the act before Brett Emerton, Carl Valeri and Robbie Kruse all scored, the latter two also getting their first goals at international level.
Matt McKay was man-of-the-match with a brilliant performance, supplying three assists as the architect in midfield.
Mark Schwarzer kept a clean sheet in his milestone game, equaling the record for most Socceroos caps of 87, which he now shares with Alex Tobin.
The Socceroos will now meet Japan in the final on Saturday January 29 whilst Uzbekistan will take on South Korea in the third-place play-off the day before.
Venue: Khalifa International Stadium, Doha Crowd: 24,826 Referee: Ali Hamad Al Badwawi (UAE) Yellow cards:UZB - Ulugbek Bakaev 56'/67' AUS - Luke Wilkshire 15', Carl Valeri 38', David Carney 72' Red card: Ulugbek Bakaev 67'
Australia had a great chance in just the third minute when Brett Holman picked up the ball in midfield before playing out wide to the right flank were Tim Cahill dinked it into the back post to an unmarked Holman who had cruised. However, the AZ Alkmaar man's side-footed volley was well saved by Uzbek keeper Temur Juraev, who tipped it around the upright to deny a dream start for Holger Osieck's men.
GOAL Less than two minutes later, the Socceroos did take the lead through Harry Kewell. Matt McKay slipped a nice ball through to Kewell who took one touch before advancing into the area and unleashing across Juraev for his third of the tournament.
The Uzbeks were enjoying far more possession but could only come up with a slight chance in the 17th minute when Maksim Shatskikh's free-kick from the left side of the penalty box flew just wide of the right post.
Uzbekistan were providing a few problems for the Australian defence, finding space whilst going forward, but it was Australia who continued to have good chances and they were inches away from being 2-0 up in the 31st minute when Juraev saved the day again with a finger-tip save from a David Carney chip.
GOAL The Socceroos put their efficiency to their benefit when Sasa Ognenovski chimed in with the second goal of the match. Carney's free-kick from the left to the back post was won in the air by Cahill with the ball falling to the Ognenovski and the giant centre-half did the rest, firing home on his left unmarked from the top of the six-yard box for his debut international goal.
Osieck brought off Kewell in just the 53rd minute, giving Melbourne Victory youngster Robbie Kruse a good opportunity and he almost made an immediate impact when he glided into the area but his shot lacked the venom to get past Juraev.
Uzbekistan were pushing forward with more frequency around the hour-mark, making it clear they were keen to get back into proceedings, but their desperation went against them when Carney nipped in for a third in the 65th minute. GOAL Kruse played a neat pass to Cahill in midfield who knocked it on for McKay. The Brisbane Roar captain then teed it up for an advancing Carney who this time went under Juraev to essentially wrap things up.
Odil Akhmedov forced a top save out of Schwarzer soon after before things got worse for the Uzbeks when Ulugbek Bakaev was sent off for a second bookable offence when he floored Cahill behind play.
GOAL Soon it was 4-0 when Kruse got onto a long ball before cutting back for fellow substitute Brett Emerton who knocked home easily past a hapless Juraev to make it a happy Australia Day for the Socceroos.
GOAL There was still time for a fifth and it came when Kruse played a deft backheel into the path of McKay who managed to cut back from the left side for an unmarked Valeri who slammed it home from pointblank range.
GOAL Less than a minute later, Kruse opened his international account thanks to a massive error from Juraev with a shot from just on the edge of the area. Kruse had won the ball in midfield before rounding three defenders and then getting some luck when his shot slipped through the legs of the Uzbek keeper.
That was enough for the Aussies who barged into their second final at senior international level after their 1997 Confederations Cup loss to Brazil.
UZB Temur Juraev (gk), Ulugbek Bakaev, Anzur Ismailov, Sakhob Juraek, Azizbek Haydarov, Server Djeparov, Odil Akhmedov, Maksim Shatskikh (Tursunov 60'), Timur Kapadze, Jasur Khasanov (Bikmaev 55'), Viktor Karpenko (Ibragimov 71')
Subs - Marat Bikmaev (55'), Sanjar Tursunov (60'), Aziz Ibragimov (71')
AUS Mark Schwarzer (gk), David Carney, Lucas Neill, Sasa Ognenovski, Luke Wilkshire, Matt McKay, Mile Jedinak, Carl Valeri, Brett Holman (Emerton 61'), Tim Cahill (Kilkenny 71'), Harry Kewell (Kruse 53')