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Cahill brace ends China's run at Asian Cup

(Xinhua)    08:17, January 23, 2015
China's Sun Ke (C) heads for the ball with Australia's Mile Jedinak (L) during the quarterfinal match at the 2015 AFC Asian Cup in Brisbane, Australia, Jan. 22, 2015. China lost the match 0-2. (Xinhua/Guo Yong)

MELBOURNE, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Australian striker Tim Cahill's individual performance has ended the impressive run of China and helped the host nation through to the semi-finals of the Asian Cup with a 2-0 victory in Brisbane on Thursday.

The 35-year-old struck twice in 15 minutes, once with an overhead kick and again with a craning header, as Australia advanced to the final four of the competition at the expense of a resolute China side.

Earlier, South Korea also qualified for the semi-finals, but was forced to wait until extra time to defeat Uzbekistan 2-0 in an entertaining clash in Melbourne.

But the drawcard event was occurring in Brisbane, with host nation Australia renewing acquaintances with an impressive Chinese side.

In an evenly matched start to the contest, China attempted to create chances through the industry of Zhang Chengdong. However, Ji Xiang flicked his cross wide after a bustling run down the right.

Australia soon worked their way into the contest, but still found opportunities hard to come by against a stern Chinese defense.

Mile Jedinak saw a far-post header deflected wide, while Mathew Leckie had a powerful shot touched wide by Wang Dalei after a fine individual run to the edge of the area.

The best chance of the half fell to Australian defender Trent Sainsbury. However, after finding space to meet Mark Bresciano's free kick, he nodded his effort narrowly over the bar.

Goalless at the break, Australia required some magic to unlock China's resistance after the interval.

From an innocuous situation, Cahill produced a bicycle kick to beat Wang to the bottom corner of the net, opening the scoring.

It also raised the confidence of the host nation. On the receiving end of Leckie's fine cross, Cahill's towering header nestled in the top corner to double Australia's advantage.

China fought valiantly and nearly reduced the deficit through Zheng Zhi's deflected 20-yard shot.

With China sending numbers forward, Australia nearly added a third on the counter. Substitute Mark Milligan was twice denied by Wang's reflexes, before Nathan Burns's powerful effort was bunted away by the keeper.

Australia will meet either Japan or the United Arab Emirates in the semi-final.

Earlier, a hard fought 2-0 victory, courtesy of Son Heung-Min's extra time double, helped South Korea become the first side to qualify for the semi-finals of the Asian Cup.

Uzbekistan had a golden chance to open the scoring after just five minutes when Lutfulla Turaev ghosted into the area and was played by his captain, Odil Akhmedov. However, the cross narrowly evaded Turaev, with the goal seemingly at his mercy.

South Korea was looking particularly vulnerable when dealing with balls into the box. Uzbekistan twice more nearly exploited this week, as their search for an opening goal continued.

Sanjar Tursunov, unmarked at the back post, saw an effort kept out by the onrushing Kim Jin-Hyeon, before Akhmedov volleyed over from six yards out following Vitaliy Denisov's pinpoint delivery.

But if South Korea was looking susceptible at the back, they had no such worries going forward.

Uzbekistan goalkeeper Ignatiy Nesterov denied both Lee Keun-Ho and Nam Tae-Hee after advancing from his line, before producing a sprawling save to touch Son's curling effort over the bar.

However, despite the chances and the impressive tempo throughout the first half, neither side could break the deadlock as the two sides went to the interval goalless.

South Korea had gained full control of the match by the closing stages of the first half and they continued to threaten after half time.

Son's in-swinging free kick forced a smart save from Nesterov at his near post, before the Uzbek goalkeeper again came up with an outstanding full-stretch stop to keep out Lee Jeong-Hyeop's header.

Despite their dominance going forward, things still looked uncertain at the back for Uli Stielike's side. When Sardor Rashidov broke the offside trap, Kim made a brave stop to deny the winger.

In an end-to-end contest, Lee nearly profited from a defensive mishap from Uzbekistan, but volleyed into the side netting, while Turaev somehow managed to miss a sitter.

Rashidov's fine work down the right flank created the chance for his midfield teammate, but Turaev headed wide from pointblank range with the keeper beaten.

South Korea was the next to miss a cast-iron chance. Ki Sung- Yueng's squaring ball found Nam in the middle. But, with the goal gaping, an air-swing allowed Uzbekistan off the hook.

Despite the abundance of chances, it remained goalless, with an additional 30 minutes required to separate the two teams.

Finally, after 103 minutes, South Korea broke the deadlock. Son was on hand to produce a stooping header from Kim Jin-Su's low cross after Shukhrat Mukhammadiev carelessly lost possession on the edge of his own area.

Uzbekistan couldn't recover and, late in the match with a devastating counter attack, led by substitute Cha Du-Ri, South Korea sealed the result.

Cha's fresh legs seared down the right wing, before he squared for Son. Despite battling cramp, the Bayer Leverkusen forward produced an emphatic finish to complete a 2-0 win.

South Korea will now face the winner of Iran and Iraq in the semi finals, while Australia will meet either Japan or the United Arab Emirates.


(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Editor:Wang Ao,Yao Chun)

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