TASHKENT, Sept 10 (Reuters) - Australia bagged an early goal
then soaked up over an hour of pressure to earn a 1-0 win over
Uzbekistan on Wednesday in Asian World Cup qualifying.
The Socceroos went ahead through Scott Chipperfield after 25
entertaining minutes, then fended off a string of dangerous
Uzbek attacks which yielded nothing but frustrated groans from
the capacity crowd in Tashkent.
The win moved Australia into third in Group Two behind
Qatar, who take on Bahrain later on Wednesday and Japan.
Uzbekistan dominated the match but their midfield
industriousness was wasted after a string of disappointing
crosses and poor set pieces.
Australia got their break against the run of play when Luke
Wilkshire skipped over a tackle on the right from Islom Innomov
to find the unmarked Chipperfield, who headed into the top left
Uzbekistan heaped on the pressure and could have levelled
three minutes before the break when Ulugbek Bakaev had his
header blocked and fired the loose ball over the bar.
Australia should have put the game beyond the hosts in first
half injury time when Mark Bresciano blasted wide a clumsy shot
from 20 metres with only the keeper to beat.
Chasing a place at their first World Cup finals, Uzbekistan
had more than a handful of second-half chances but were denied
by desperate goal-line clearances and their misfiring marksman
Uzbekistan, the best performing side in the earlier two
rounds, are rooted to the bottom of Group Two with two defeats
from their opening two matches in round four.