China 0 Australia 2: Cahill steals the show as hosts progress
Tim Cahill fired Australia into the semi-finals of the Asian Cup in sensational fashion, scoring both goals - one courtesy of a superb overhead kick - in a 2-0 victory over China at Brisbane Stadium.
A moment of genius from Cahill was enough to give Australia the upper hand four minutes into the second half of Thursday's last-eight tie.
With his back to goal, the veteran pulled off a superb bicycle kick, again demonstrating his ability to shine on the big stage following his stunning volleyed strike against the Netherlands at last year's World Cup.
Cahill added a second goal after 65 minutes with a trademark powerful header, putting the game out of reach for a stubborn Chinese side who showed plenty of fight in front of their many fans.
Tournament hosts Australia will now battle either Japan or the United Arab Emirates for a place in the final.
Mile Jedinak returned from injury for Australia, who also handed starts to Mark Bresciano, Alex Wilkinson and Robbie Kruse.
It was China who started the brighter, however, and Wilkinson had to make a perfectly timed tackle after the pacy Wu Lei had burst through.
Wu threatened again following a loose ball from Jedinak, the forward's eventual shot deflecting wide for a corner, and a cutback from Zhang Chengdong provided another scare as China sensed an upset.
Yet Australia gradually grew in stature as the first half wore on, with Jedinak and Trent Sainsbury each missing the target from Bresciano set-pieces.
The best chance of the opening period came after 28 minutes when Matt Leckie jinked into the box before unleashing a powerful left-footed drive that was parried away by Wang Dalei.
China duly made it through to the break on level terms, but could do little about Cahill's spectacular 49th-minute opener.
After an Australia corner had been cleared by China, Ivan Franjic's looping header back into the box found Cahill to the left of goal. And the New York Red Bulls man met the dropping ball with a deft bicycle kick, sending the ball across goal into the bottom-left corner.
Australia were soon playing with a swagger and Bresciano spurned a fine opportunity before being substituted on the hour mark.
Cahill also forced a fine parried save from China's goalkeeper, before finding the net again with a superb angled header from Jason Davidson's left-wing cross.
A predictably rapturous reception greeted Cahill when he was withdrawn with 10 minutes remaining and there was almost a third goal for Australia when his replacement, Mark Milligan, missed a golden chance following a fine run.