DOHA - Australia secured a first Asian Cup
final appearance against three-times champions Japan after they
thrashed a disappointing Uzbekistan 6-0 at the Khalifa Stadium
Japan beat South Korea 3-0 in a penalty shootout after the
two sides drew 2-2 in the first semi-final at the Al Gharafa
"It is unreal, how can you expect to win like that?"
Australia's beaming German coach Holger Osieck told reporters
after his side crushed opponents who played the last 23 minutes
with 10 men.
"We planned to win the game and get to the final but you can
never predict a score like that.
"I'm very happy how our team has developed in the tournament
and we are almost at the stage where we can compete and become
Australia had been criticised for their failings in front of
goal before the semi-final after scoring just one goal in each
of their last three matches but they had little problem in
finding the net against an Uzbek defence who played like
Australia took the lead after just five minutes at an
half-empty Khalifa Stadium when Harry Kewell was afforded enough
time to fire an angled left foot shot in to the opposite corner
after a clever throughball from Matt McKay.
Uzbekistan had produced some lovely pass-and-move football
en route to their first appearance in the last four but were far
from their best as David Carney went close to doubling the lead
but his chipped-effort was blocked by Juraev.
The chances continued to come for Australia, at 26 the best
FIFA ranked side in the tournament, and Sasa Ognenovski made it
2-0 in the 34th minute with a rifled finish from close-range
after the ball fell kindly to him in a crowded penalty area.
Uzbekistan coach Vadim Abramov made two changes early in the
second half bringing on Sanjar Tursunov and Marat Bikmaev but
they were unable to stop the one-sided flow.
Overlapping fullback Carney was able to grab a third after
he latched on to a throughball from McKay and slotted under
Uzbek goalkeeper Temur Juraev in the 65th minute.
The Uzbeks started to lose their cool and Ulugbek Bakaev,
whose two goals sealed a quarter-final victory over Jordan, was
sent-off after he received a second yellow card for lunging on
Luke Wilkshire two minutes after the goal.
The Uzbek defence continued to disintegrate and offer the
Socceroos chances. Substitute Brett Emerton took full advantage
after a long ball from the back found Robbie Kruse in space and
he squared for the midfielder to easily finish in the 74th.
Midfielder Carl Valeri also converted from close range in
the 82nd minute after another assist from McKay with Kruse
completing the rout moments later after his tame side-footed
effort from 25-metres out slipped embarrassingly under Juraev.
"I don't know exactly what happened. I am sorry for the
Uzbek people," a despondent Abramov told reporters.
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