DOHA - A header from Harry Kewell
three minutes from the end of extra-time gave Australia a 1-0
victory over holders Iraq in their Asian Cup quarter-final on
The entertaining match at the Al Sadd Stadium looked to be
heading to penalties after both sides squandered a number of
opportunities before Kewell was left unmarked to direct his
header home after a beautifully flighted ball from Matt McKay.
Australia, the best FIFA ranked side in the tournament at
26th, will play Uzbekistan in the semi-finals at the Khalifa
Stadium on Tuesday.
It will be a first appearance in the last four for the
Socceroos, who went out in the quarter-finals on their debut in
2007, and gave their German coach Holger Osieck a win over his
compatriot and Iraqi boss Wolfgang Sidka.
"The team showed a lot of heart," Osieck told reporters.
"Uzbekistan is waiting. They are a good team and they play a
very different game."
Australia created the bulk of chances in the match with
Kewell and left winger McKay wasting two good opportunities in
the first half when they both struck shots over the bar.
Iraq's playmaker Nashat Akram struggled to find space in the
opening stages under the watchful gaze of Australia's midfield
duo of Mile Jedinak and Carl Valeri but the holders came back
into the game in the second half.
Iraq striker Emad Mohammed spurned the best chance of the
match in the 55th minute when put clear after a neat throughball
from captain Younus Mahmood but the striker angled his shot
Iraq's Mohammed Kassid continued to be the busier of the two
goalkeepers but neither was called upon to make any difficult
saves as both sides proved wasteful in attack as half-chances
continued to flow.
Australian defender Sasa Ognenovski placed a short-range
header directly into the arms of Kassid with Brett Holman
warming the goalkeepers hands with a straight drive.
As the match entered extra-time both sides continued to
press for a winning goal but Mahmood misjudged his header from
close range, Ala'a Abdulzehra's toe-poke lacked power and
Jedinak deflected Ognenovski's goal-bound overhead kick over the
With penalties looming Kewell, who had become more
ineffectual as the match worn on, chose the perfect time to
score his first goal of the tournament.
"Iraq came back very strongly in extra time, I'm
particularly happy for Kewell that he got the deciding goal,"
Sidka praised his players who looked the stronger side as
that match entered its final stages.
"I think we played better in extra time - hard-luck for us,
good luck to the Australians - I think it was a very exciting
match," Sidka said.
"You saw everything there is to offer in football. The
spectators saw a great match. We had many chances, we did
everything, in the end it was one cross and one header."
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