Harry Kewell fired Australia into the semi-finals of the Asian Cup with a header deep into extra-time to see off Iraq at Al Sadd Stadium.
Kewell met Matt McKay's deep cross from the left with four minutes remaining and directed a header past Iraq goalkeeper Mohammed Kassid to set up a last-four meeting with Uzbekistan.
A dour first-half proved short on chances, McKay scooping the ball over the bar after latching onto Samal Saeed's poor defensive header the only notable action in the opening 40 minutes.
Australia then spurned two presentable opportunities before the interval.
First, a neat through-ball allowed McKay a clear sight of goal but the midfielder disappointingly shot straight at Mohammed Kassid before Kewell outmuscled Ali Erhaima as they contested Luke Wilkshire's delivery from deep but his lob was too high with the Iraq keeper rushing out to close him down.
Iraq then spurned the best opportunity of the game nine minutes after the break when Younus Mahmood threaded a fine ball into the path of Emad Mohammed and the midfielder fired across Mark Schwarzer but beyond the far post.
Sasa Ognenovski could only divert Lucas Neill's header from McKay's corner straight at Kassid, who pushed Brett Holman's drive from distance with 10 minutes to go.
Schwarzer then had to be alert to hold substitute Mustafa Kareem's header low down to his right as 90 minutes failed to produce a goal.
Ognenovski almost broke the deadlock seven minutes into the first additional period but his acrobatic overhead kick from a corner that was destined for the back of the net was inexplicably headed over the bar by Mile Jedinak from close range.
That miss did not prove costly, however, as with the game seemingly headed for penalties, Kewell timed his run in between two Iraq defenders to perfection and got on the end of McKay's delivery to head Australia into the last four.
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 four 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
''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
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. I must praise my players
especially for the last 30 minutes, we did everything at the end to try and win
and we end up empty-handed.
''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% okay.''