Socceroos squeeze out Uzbekistan on penalties
The green and gold couldn't break down their opponents but got the job done from the spot

Australlia qualified for their fourth consecutive Asian Cup quarter final after overcoming Uzbekistan 4-2 on penalties following on from a goalless draw in 120 minutes.

Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan was the hero in the shootout, making two saves after Aziz Behich missed the green and gold's second penalty.

The returning Mathew Leckie struck the winning penalty to send his nation in the last eight against either hosts UAE or Kyrgyzstan.

Uzbekistan started the better of the two teams and should have taken the lead in the 10th minute through Eldor Shomurodov.

After leaving Trent Sainsbury stranded after the simplest of dribbles, Shomurodov could not lift his shot over Mat Ryan, with the ball striking the Socceroos goalkeeper in the shoulder.

Australia were dealt another blow mid-way through the half with Tom Rogic receiving a questionable yellow card - a booking that will see him miss the quarter-final.

It was a half of few chances as the Socceroos barely troubled Uzbek shot stopper Ignatiy Nesterov, while the Central Asians were restricted to long-range efforts.

However the green and gold came out with renewed intensity in the second period and pinned the Uzbeks back in their half from the outset.

Trent Sainsbury lifted a wonderful ball over the top of the Uzbek defence to Rhyan Grant's run in behind, but the Sydney FC defender headed over the bar instead of putting it across goal for waiting teammates.

Just before his withdrawal, Jamie Maclaren had a golden chance to break the deadlock but he couldn't get a toe on Rogic's clever pass when any contact would have been a goal.

The introduction of Mathew Leckie, his first minutes of the tournament, created a spark in the Australian attack and it took a superb save from Nesterov to deny the winger after some trickery down the right flank.

Uzbek skipper Odil Akhmedov had a difficult opportunity as stoppage time approached, arriving late in the box to volley but spraying the shot off an Australian defender for a corner.

The Socceroos peppered their opponents box in the dying moments but they couldn't find an opening as extra time beckoned.

Article continues below

Momentum continued for Graham Arnold's side in the first half of the extra period, but aside from a couple of Rogic long-range efforts, Australia couldn't break down the steely Uzbek rearguard.

And it was the same story in the last 15 minutes as the match headed into penalties.

Unfortunately for the Uzbeks they were eliminated by the Socceroos again, like they were at the semi-final stage in 2011, but they could hold the heads high at running a tournament favourite to the wire.

Comments ()