Australia on the verge of third World Cup appearance
Australia is on the verge of a place in the 2010 World Cup™ finals, after winning 2-0 against Uzbekistan at Stadium Australia in Sydney. Second half goals from substitute Josh Kennedy and Harry Kewell from the penalty spot saw Australia home after a fairly laborious first half.
Australia is on the verge of a place in the 2010 World Cup™ finals, after winning 2-0 against Uzbekistan at Stadium Australia in Sydney.
Second half goals from substitute Josh Kennedy and Harry Kewell from the penalty spot saw Australia home after a fairly laborious first half.
Australia will now wait on the result of the Bahrain and Qatar match to be played later tonight, with a draw confirming Australia-s place at next years finals in South Africa. Australia moved back to the top of the table, two points ahead of Japan and nine clear of Uzbekistan, Bahrain and Qatar.
The introduction of Kennedy on the hour proved a major turning point, as his height was always going to make it tough for the tiring Uzbekistan defence.
Six minutes after entering the fray, he was on the scoresheet, heading powerfully past Ignatiy Nesterov from Mark Bresciano-s delightful cross. Bresciano had been the spark in the second half and it was little wonder that he laid on the opening goal.
If that goal had eased the nerves of the 57,292 fans, the crowd was ecstatic seven minutes later, when Richard Garcia was bundled over in the box and UAE referee Ali Al Badawi pointed to the spot.
Kewell stepped up and made no mistake with a powerful shot to the keeper-s right.
The match started on a heavy pitch with heavy rain falling half an hour before kick-off.
The first half was a tame affair with Australia looking nervous and were slow in their ball movement, while Uzbekistan, especially in the opening 15 minutes were looking sharp on the slippery surface.
Australia though did have the first chance of the game after four minutes; Scott McDonald getting some space on the edge of the box, but his shot was not hit with any great conviction and was also straight at Nesterov. Uzbekistan then had two good opportunities within a minute; the first after a mistake by Michael Beauchamp allowed Farhod Tadjivev to break. His cross found Timur Kapadze, but his first time effort was mishit and Jason Culina was able to clear. A minute later, Tadjivev was presented with an excellent chance, racing onto a neat through ball, but his shot across Mark Schwarzer was just wide of the far post. The best chance of the half though fell to Bresciano in the 16th minute and it should have given Australia the lead.
Fed by McDonald, Bresciano-s excellent first touch saw him open up the goal, but with only Nesterov to beat he inexplicably hit his shot straight at the grateful Uzbek keeper.
The rest of the half saw only a few half chances fall to Australia, with Jason Culina-s shot from 25 metres the best, but not troubling Nesterov.
The one sour note for Australia was the late booking in the first half for Luke Wilkshire, which will keep him out of the next game against Qatar.
It was a different story in the second half, as Australia upped the tempo from the opening whistle and with Uzbekistan looking decidedly weary, Australia dominated and the opening was only a matter of when it would happen.
Bresciano and Garcia stamped their authority, getting forward and pressuring the defence and give McDonald better support around the box.
Garcia set up a chance for Kewell, whose first time volley was blocked, while up the end, the dangerous Farhod Tadjivev was just wide with a shot from the edge of the box.
Culina thought he had given Australia the lead in the 59th minute, his swerving shot brilliantly tipped over the bar by Nesterov.
Beauchamp then headed wide from in front of goal, but it was only a matter of time before the goal came.
Kennedy, as he so often does, managed to find space in the box and he headed home Bresciano-s cross for his sixth goal in 12 appearances for the green and gold.
The decisive second goal came after Garcia got to a ball from Brescia no first in the box and was then bundled over by Hayrulla Karimov; Kewell with the spot kick conversion.
Uzbekistan continued to fight hard and thought they had a consolation goal deep into injury time to Anvarjon Soliev. But he was ruled offside after he had pounced on Schwarzer-s point blank from Server Djeparov-s shot.
If the draw doesn-t happen between Bahrain and Qatar, Australia will need only a draw against Qatar in its next game to confirm its place in South Africa.
Australia 2 (Josh Kennedy 66-, Harry Kewell 73-pen) Uzbekistan 0
Australia: 1. Mark Schwarzer, 2. Lucas Neill, 5. Jason Culina, 6. Michael Beauchamp, 8. Luke Wilkshire, 10. Harry Kewell (14. Brett Holman 75-), 13. Richard Garcia, 11. Scott Chipperfield, 15. Carl Valeri (7. Mile Jedinak 82-), 17. Scott McDonald (9. Josh Kennedy 61-), 18. Mark Bresciano Subs not used: 12. Michael Petkovic, 3. David Carney, 4. Tim Cahill, 15. Jade North
Cautions: Wilkshire, Neill
Uzbekistan: 12. Ignatiy Nesterov (GK), 2. Anvar Gafurov, 3. Hayrulla Karimov (15. Islom Tuhtahujaev 75-), 4. Aziz Ibragimov (7. Azizbek Haydarov 65-), 5. Islom Tuhtahujaev, 6. Jasur Hasanov, 8. Server Djeparov, 9. Odil Ahmedov, 10. Farhod Tadjiyev (11. Anvarjon Soliev 58-), 13. Sakhob Jurayev, 18. Timur Kapadz Subs from: 1. Temur Juraev (GK), 14. Vitali Denisov, 16 Ilhomson Suyonov, 17. Shakhboz Erkinov