- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 1, 2009

SYDNEY (AP) - Josh Kennedy and Harry Kewell scored second-half goals to put Australia on the cusp of securing a World Cup spot with a 2-0 win over Uzbekistan on Wednesday.

If the Group A match between Bahrain and Qatar ends in a draw later Wednesday at Manama, Australia will be the first team to advance to South Africa 2010 from Asian qualifying.

Kennedy, a forward with German club Karlsruhe, scored six minutes after replacing Celtic striker Scott McDonald in the 60th minute.

The 26-year-old Kennedy directed his header inside the near post from Mark Bresciano’s powerful cross from the right edge of the area in the 66th minute to break the deadlock.

It was his sixth goal in 12 matches for Australia.

Ex-Liverpool winger Kewell drove a left-foot penalty kick low and hard into the bottom right corner of the net to seal the win after Hull City midfielder Richard Garcia was felled in a rough challenge inside the area.

It was Australia’s fourth win in five matches in the last full round of qualifying and the fifth straight clean sheet for goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer.

The Australians lead the group with 13 points, two ahead of Japan.

Uzbekistan, Bahrain and Qatar all went into Wednesday’s matches with four points.

Uzbekistan got its campaign back on track with a 4-0 win over Qatar at Tashkent last Saturday night, but now can only challenge for third place in the group, which earns a place in a playoff with the third-place team from Group B.

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