2015 AFC Asian Cup, Semifinals
  • Trent Sainsbury (3')
  • Jason Davidson (14')

Australia beat UAE 2-0 in Asian Cup to reach final against South Korea

Australia remained on course for their maiden Asian Cup title after defeating United Arab Emirates 2-0 in a semifinal at a wet Newcastle Stadium on Tuesday night.

Playing in Newcastle for the first time in almost 20 years, the Socceroos took a firm grip on the contest when defenders Trent Sainsbury and Jason Davidson scored inside the first 15 minutes.

Australia march on to the final against South Korea at Sydney on Saturday, when the host nation hope to go one step better than their 2011 final loss to Japan. Ange Postecoglou's men have already lost 1-0 to South Korea in the Group A contest between the two sides on Jan. 17.

UAE, who knocked out defending champions Japan 5-4 on penalties in the quarterfinals, couldn't find a breakthrough to spark a comeback despite another leading performance by star playmaker Omar Abdulrahman.

UAE will remain in Newcastle, where they will take on fellow West Asians Iraq in Friday's third place playoff match.

Australia and the UAE had never met in a competitive match, and their last two friendlies ended in scoreless draws. But the hosts needed only three minutes to make a dream start. Massimo Luongo's corner was met by Sainsbury, who took advantage of some slack marking to guide in his header.

Indeed, Australia's eagerness to dominate midfield in the first half was best epitomised by Robbie Kruse, who dispossessed Abdulrahman while missing one of his boots.

Kruse created the next Australia chance when the winger's cross fell close to Tim Cahill. In the ensuing scramble, Mathew Leckie's shot was blocked, but Davidson's follow-up shot slid past goalkeeper Majed Naser to double their advantage in the 14th minute to become Australia's 10th different scorer of the tournament.

Ahmed Khalil, who was UAE's most impressive player in the first half, then fired a warning of UAE's strength in attack when his shot from a low cross hit the outside of the post.

UAE started the second half better than the first, with Abdulrahman getting on to the ball increasingly more in threatening areas, but Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan was rarely tested.

Cahill, who was largely contained by the defence, was withdrawn for Tomi Juric just after the hour by Postecoglou, who may have had thoughts of keeping his talisman fresh for the final.

A concern for Postecoglou, though, will be the fitness of left-back Ivan Franjic, who appeared to injure his groin late when Australia had already used their three substitutions.