Newcastle (Australia), Jan 27: Australia struck twice early on and then soaked up the pressure as they downed United Arab Emirates 2-0 to set up an Asian Cup football final against unbeaten South Korea today.
Quickfire goals from defenders Trent Sainsbury and Jason Davidson in the first 15 minutes were enough to put the 2011 runners-up in the frame for their first Asian title.
"It was a dream start for us," said Davidson of West Bromwich Albion. "I think as the game went on fatigue kicked in a little bit but we hung on and kept a clean sheet."
The Emirates' star playmaker Omar Abdulrahman asked constant questions of the Socceroos at Newcastle's Hunter Stadium, but the visitors were unable to craft a way back.
"It wasn't the best performance but sometimes in semi-finals you don't play your best football," said forward Robbie Kruse, a veteran of 2011's tight final defeat to Japan.
"Sometimes you have to grind out a victory and we did that. We're happy to be there and we have the chance to create history on Saturday night."
Sainsbury had promised to "choke" UAE "until they're blue" and they barely had time to draw breath when he headed in the game's first corner after only three minutes.
The centre-half rose unmarked to nod the ball down and past goalkeeper Majed Naser, settling any early nerves for Ange Postecoglou's men.
UAE targetman Ahmed Khalil almost hit back on 10 minutes but his low shot struck the outside of Mathew Ryan's near post and went out for a goal-kick. And on 14 minutes Australia earned breathing space when left-back Davidson coolly passed the ball into the bottom corner for the 2-0 lead.