Australia through to face Japan in Asian Cup final

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Australia swept aside Uzbekistan 6-0 on Tuesday to reach its first Asian Cup final.

Australia, which had only scored seven goals in the entire tournament until Tuesday, will face three-time champion Japan on Saturday. Japan beat South Korea on penalties in the first semifinal.

Harry Kewell put the Australians ahead in the fifth minute with a crisp left-foot finish from just inside the box after Matt McKay's pass.

Uzbekistan strung together some neat passes but its vulnerability in defense was exposed again in the 34th, when Tim Cahill headed down a free kick and Sasa Ognenovski had time to take a touch before ramming the ball home for his first international goal.

David Carney made it 3-0 in the 65th after being played in by McKay, and Uzbekistan's evening got worse when Ulugbek Bakaev was sent off two minutes later for his second booking.

Substitute Brett Emerton scored the fourth in the 74th before Carl Valeri and Robbie Kruse - courtesy of a goalkeeper error - wrapped up the scoring with two goals in two minutes.

"My team had a fantastic game tonight, I am overwhelmed," Australia coach Holger Osieck said. "All the things that we wanted came together, I give the boys a lot of credit for their performance."

Uzbekistan coach Vadim Abramov had been bullish the day before the match, promising that his team had enough experience not to be overawed by the prospect of its first Asian Cup semifinal, but his side's performance made his words sound rather hollow in retrospect.

The underdogs began brightly enough, exchanging neat passes around the opposition penalty area, but Australia almost scored with its first attack when Brett Holman met a Cahill cross with a first-time shot that was pushed around the post by Temur Juraev.

A minute later, Australia did score, Kewell following up his extra-time winner against Iraq in the quarterfinal with his third goal of the tournament and his 17th in 52 international appearances.

Uzbekistan continued to cause Australia problems, and both Luke Wilkshire and Carl Valeri picked up bookings in the first half, but Abramov's side switched off at the back again in the 35th.

Ognenovski, the Asian player of the year playing in only his sixth international match, seemed to have all the time in the world to finish after Cahill got his head to Carney's free kick from the left.

Uzbekistan, which topped its group ahead of China, Kuwait and Qatar, fell apart in the second half.

Referee Ali Hamad Albadwawi played an advantage after Bakaev slid in very late on Cahill but had no hesitation in booking the defender once play had stopped.

McKay's pass sent Carney galloping into the area to score via a touch off the keeper to make it 3-0, before Bakaev's poor challenge on Luke Wilkshire led to his dismissal.

With Uzbekistan in disarray, Australia tore apart its defense at will.

Substitute Kruse missed a sitter before McKay, with his third assist of the evening, cut the ball back for Valeri to tap in the 82nd. The scoreboard had hardly ticked over to 5-0 when Kruse's low shot crept under Juraev's body for the sixth goal.

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