Australia Thrash Uzbekistan to reach the Asian Cup Final
Australia trounce Uzbekistan 6-0 to book their place in the final
Australia stormed into their first ever Asian Cup final after thrashing Uzbekistan 6-0. The historic victory means that the Qantas Socceroos now face Japan in the final in Qatar on the 30th January.
This is just the second time Australia-s featured in the tournament since moving into the Asian Football Confederation and four years ago a disappointing campaign saw the Aussies go out in the quarter finals.
The disappointing inaugural campaign is now a distant memory though after Australia-s scintillating performance, worthy of taking any side into the final of a major competition. Manager Holger Osieck kept the same starting 11 that laboured to victory over Iraq in the quarters but this time everything seemed to click for the Aussies.
The number one ranked side only had to wait five minutes before opening the scoring and this set the tone for the rest of the match. Matt McKay-s excellent through ball found Harry Kewell who powered a shot past the outstretched ‘keeper-s hands.
Uzbekistan did come back and were by no means outclassed by the Aussies in the first half, despite the scoreline. Some smart build up play and solid possession saw the underdogs as a genuine threat to the Aussie goal but the stingy Australian defence stood strong to hold out and keep a clean sheet.
Uzbekistan have been in stellar form throughout the tournament and their general all round play and performances have proven them to be one of the most entertaining sides in the competition. They just didn-t have enough for an on-fire Australian outfit who put in an overdue top performance against the Uzbeks.
Sasa Onenovski-s goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the opponents though and this appeared to put the match in the Aussie side-s hands as half time approached. The two sides kept on battling after the break and Australia kept hitting Uzbekistan on the break.
The game was definitely put to bed when the third goal came on 64 minutes. Kruse-s pass fed out to the buoyant McKay who played the ball through to Carney who slotted the ball into the back of the net with a cool finish.
At 3-0 down they had a mountain to climb and things were made worse after Bakaev was shown a second yellow after scything down Wilkshire. The floodgates then opened and the result was slightly embarrassing to the Uzbekistan side who had been good throughout the tournament.
The fourth came as Kruse unselfishly played the ball across to Emerton who put the ball in the back of the net. The fifth followed as the 10-man Uzbeks crumbled under the pressure, when Valerei blasted home from close range.
The misery was confounded for the Uzbeks when Kruse scored his first international goal. His tame looking shot looked to be going into the ‘keepers hands but a mistake saw the unfortunate Juraev let it slip under his body and into the goal.
Another plus for the Aussies is the record equalling Schwarzer. He has now featured 87 times for the Qantas Socceroos and barring an unlikely injury, he-s set to break the all-time appearance record against Japan in the final. Alex Tobin-s record is now set to be surpassed in the final but the humble Mark Schwarzer will have that far from his mind when they line-up next week.
Australia day was a fitting occasion for such a performance and the team can now etch their names into Australian sporting history when they face Japan.