• Dream start ... Australia's players celebrate Harry Kewell's early goal (Getty)
Australia stormed into the AFC Asian Cup final with all guns blazing after demolishing Uzbekistan 6-0 in Doha on Wednesday (AEDT).
Source
AAP
25 Jan 2011 - 11:18 PM  UPDATED 14 May 2014 - 6:05 PM

The Socceroos turned in a ruthless performance in front of 24,836 fans at Khalifa Stadium, with Harry Kewell, Sasa Ognenovski, David Carney, Brett Emerton, Carl Valeri and Robbie Kruse all scoring to earn Australia's first shot at the continental trophy.

The resurgent Kewell broke the Uzbeks’ hearts with a fifth-minute goal and the world's 108th ranked side offered little resistance from then on, finishing with 10 men after Ulugbek Bakaev saw a second yellow in the 67th minute.

The match continued the remarkable rise of Brisbane Roar midfielder Matt McKay, who was brilliant in setting up three goals in a man-of-the-match performance, while fellow A-League bolter Kruse came off the bench to help set up two and score his first for Australia.

While the comfortable win allowed coach Holger Osieck to hand Kewell, Tim Cahill and Brett Holman early marks, Australia will on Sunday morning (AEDT) face a Japan side coming off an epic win over South Korea on penalties.

Osieck sprung a surprise prior to kick-off, naming McKay in the starting side in place of Emerton, who was available again after a one-game suspension.

But the decision paid almost-instant dividends, with McKay combining brilliantly with Kewell, just as they had done to set up the late winner in the quarter-final win over Iraq.

The pair played a neat one-two with McKay creating space with a brilliant turn before playing in Kewell and the Galatasaray star made a difficult finish look easy with his left foot.

Australia continued to find plenty of space and doubled its lead when Ognenovski picked up the scraps of a Carney free kick and hammered a low shot past Uzbek goalkeeper Temur Juraev in this seventh appearance.

Things continued much in the same fashion in the second half, with Carney finishing off a brilliant move kick-started by Kruse and also involving Cahill.

When Bakaev was ejected minutes later Uzbekistan simply fell apart with gaps appearing left, right and centre.

Kruse missed several sitters to open his account but unselfishly laid off to Emerton in the 74th minute as the scoreboard ticked over again.

The Melbourne Victory striker was again involved in the 82nd minute when his neat flick unleashed McKay, who squared the ball for Valeri to become the third first-time scorer of the night with a simple finish.

Kruse only had to wait a minute for his deserved goal, with his timid shot trickling under Juraev.

The match marked Mark Schwarzer's 87th appearance in A internationals, equalling Alex Tobin's record, but he was called into action only once with a diving save to deny Odil Akhmedov in the second half.