x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Australians earn praise after beating holders Iraq

Kewell strikes in extra time to set up semi-final date against Uzbekistan in the Asian Cup in Qatar.

Harry Kewell, on ground, and his teammates celebrate his late winner against Iraq.
Harry Kewell, on ground, and his teammates celebrate his late winner against Iraq.

DOHA // Australia coach Holger Osieck hailed a comprehensive display from his side after Harry Kewell's extra-time header knocked out defending Asian Cup champions Iraq and secured a semi-final meeting with Uzbekistan.

A keenly contested encounter was settled three minutes from the end of the second additional period when Kewell got on the end of Matt McKay's cross to break the deadlock and exact a measure of revenge for the defeat by the same opponents in the group stage four years ago.

"I'm very pleased and happy with my team's performance. We managed to qualify for the semi-finals, which is definitely a great achievement and, looking at the game itself, although it went to extra time, during the regular 90 minutes we had more of the game," said Osieck.

"We played solidly in defence, we had a good structure, we created a lot of good chances and, if I'm not mistaken, Iraq only had one great opportunity, the rest came from half-chances.

"We should have done our job in 90 minutes and then Iraq played very strongly in extra-time. Some of our key players were tired but we battled through and I'm very pleased for Harry Kewell that he was the one to score the winning goal.

"Matt McKay did a great job on the left and Brett Holman equally on the right flank. We had a lot of mobility up front, interchanging of positions. I'm very, very pleased with what I've seen.

"Of course, we should've capitalised on our opportunities and it didn't happen but I'm not negative. The players showed great determination in the game."

Having now reached the last four in only their second appearance at the continental competition, Osieck did not want to look beyond Tuesday's opponents.

"Now we need to recharge our batteries then we look at the game with Uzbekistan, that is my next target and I don't want to look further ahead," he added.

Iraq boss Wolfgang Sidka felt there was little to choose between the two sides and was left to rue Emad Mohammed's miss nine minutes after the interval that could have swung the tie in their favour.

"Australia had one more day's rest but I think, especially in extra-time, we played better than them," said the German.

"We created chances in that period and then two minutes from the end, a good cross and a good header, hard luck for us, good luck for the Australian team.

"I think we created our chances by playing football. .

"You saw everything in this game and we've always played in an attacking manner, tried to create chances and we got chances in extra time. We did everything but in the end, it was one cross and one header.

"We were disappointed to lose in the quarter-finals but the way we played I think was 100 per cent okay."