Newcastle: Hosts Australia will face Korea Republic in the final of the AFC Asian Cup Australia 2015 after maiden international goals from both Trent Sainsbury and Jason Davidson in the first half at a damp Newcastle Stadium secured a 2-0 win over the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday.
Sainsbury handed 2011 finalists Australia the ideal start to their bid to secure a second consecutive final appearance as the centre-back headed home inside the first three minutes of the semi-final with his first goal for the Socceroos.
And with Davidson following suit 11 minutes later as the full-back became Australia’s 10th different scorer during the tournament, Ange Postecoglou’s side will face two-time winners Korea on Saturday at Stadium Australia looking to claim a maiden continental title.
Both sides made two changes following their semi-final successes, with Australia recalling defender Matthew Spiranovic and midfielder Mark Milligan, while the UAE brought in full-back Walid Abbas and forward Mohamed Abdulrahman.
And it was Spiranovic’s central defensive partner Sainsbury who handed Australia the ideal start inside the first three minutes as the centre-back powered a downward header from Massimo Luongo’s right wing corner past Majed Naser.
Australia, though, were given a huge let off seven minutes later as Ahmed Khalil hit the foot of the post from Abdulaziz Sanqour’s low cross with goalkeeper Mat Ryan rooted to the spot.
But Australia took full advantage just four minutes later as the UAE defended desperately close to their own goal, but after only being able to scramble the ball out towards the edge of the penalty area, Davidson was on hand to fire a low first-time effort into the bottom corner past Naser.
The UAE finally came into the contest at the end of the second half, but with Australia goalkeeper Ryan yet to be fully tested, the hosts still looked the more likely to add to their advantage.
Omar Abdulrahman was finally having more of an impact on the contest at the start of the second half and the UAE remained in the hunt for way back into the contest as Khalil flashed an effort just wide six minutes after the restart with Ryan at full stretch.
Australia coach Postecoglou reacted to this by reshaping the Socceroos’ midfield just before the hour mark with the introduction of Matt McKay at the expense of Milligan.
And Australia were able to close out the contest without any major scares with Postecoglou having the luxury of being able to withdraw both Tim Cahill and Robbie Kruse as the UAE faded over the final minutes having fallen short of a return to the final for the first time since 1996.
Source : Asian Football Confederation Website