Kruse helps Socceroos to Asian Cup Final

Melbourne Victory striker, Robbie Kruse has helped Australia reach their first AFC Asian Cup final in emphatic fashion with a 6-0 win over Uzbekistan overnight.

Melbourne Victory striker, Robbie Kruse has helped Australia reach their first AFC Asian Cup final in emphatic fashion with a 6-0 win over Uzbekistan overnight.

The Socceroos will face Japan in the decider after Harry Kewell and AFC Player of the Year Sasa Ognenovski had given Holger Osieck's side a useful half-time lead and David Carney effectively sealed the last-four contest in the 65th minute before Ulugbaek Bakaev was sent-off two minutes later after collecting his second yellow card.

Holger Osieck's men then ruthlessly exploited their numerical superiority as Brett Emerton, Carl Valeri and Kruse all found the back of the net.

Emerton was on the bench for Australia having missed the quarter-final win over Iraq through suspension, while Ignatiy Nesterov and Alexander Geynrikh were left out of Uzbekistan's line-up after picking up injuries in their last-eight clash against Jordan.

It did not take long for Nesterov's replacement Temur Juraev to be called into action when Brett Holman met Tim Cahill's cross at the back post with a first-time volley that the keeper turned behind for a corner.

Australia broke the deadlock soon after, however. Matt McKay fed Kewell on the left side of the box and the forward took a couple of steps forward before rifling a low shot across Juraev and into the far corner.

Maksim Shatskikh curled a free-kick beyond Mark Schwarzer's far post before Australia almost grabbed a second goal on the half-hour mark when Carney intercepted a pass just inside his own half and the left-back burst forward down the wing but as he tried to chip Juraev the keeper got a hand to the ball before Uzbekistan cleared.

They doubled their lead three minutes later, though, and Carney was again involved. The defender's floated free-kick from the left was knocked down by Tim Cahill among a crowd of bodies and Ognenovski was quickest to react to the loose ball to rifle home from seven yards as Australia went in at the break with a two-goal cushion.

Juraev almost cost his side a third goal in the 58th minute but Anzur Ismailov managed to scramble away his under-hit pass before Australia effectively killed off the tie seven minutes later.

McKay was again the architect, playing in Carney down the left-side of the box and he slipped a finish under the body of the advancing keeper.

Odil Akhmedov's mazy run into the box brought a smart save out of Schwarzer before Uzbekistan's task became even harder when Bakaev - the two goal hero of the quarter-final - was sent off after picking up a second yellow card for a late challenge on Luke Wilkshire.

Kruse released Emerton but Juraev produced a good save to deny him before the midfielder got on the score-sheet in the 73rd minute as Wilkshire's long ball caught out the Uzbek defence and Kruse squared for him to slide into the empty net.

Australia were running rampant and Juraev did well to block Kruse's shot from inside the box when the striker had time and space before Valeri added the fifth goal with nine minutes to go when McKay cut the ball back from the byline for the midfielder to slam home from a yard out.

It was 6-0 almost immediately when Kruse won the ball in the centre-circle beat a defender and saw his weak shot slip through Juraev's grasp to complete a one-sided triumph.