Mathew Leckie praised Australia's medical staff for getting him fit for the knockout stages of the Asian Cup, after scoring the winning penalty that earned victory against Uzbekistan.
The winger missed the Socceroos' three Group B matches with a hamstring injury, but coach Graham Arnold had remained confident he would be able to feature during the tournament.
He was named on the bench for the Round of 16 clash in Al Ain and was introduced on the hour mark.
Leckie was able to get through not just to the end of normal time but also extra time, and then delivered the goods when he had a chance to score a penalty.
After Mat Ryan had made two saves during the shootout, Leckie's spot-kick took the Socceroos through with a 4-2 scoreline to set up a quarter-final clash with hosts the United Arab Emirates.
The 27-year-old, who had torn his hamstring while playing for German club Hertha Berlin before the tournament, said after the game: "(It means) everything. For me to just be playing today, it's super-special.
"We've worked super-hard, me and Phil Coles and the rest of the physio staff. They've done everything they can to get me back and today was also a question mark, maybe for the quarter-finals if we made it.
"But 24/7 we've been working hard to get me right and I felt good today. So obviously I played the last 30 and then extra time … the tank was a bit empty but it's always difficult going into games."
The winger said his penalty had been the best he'd ever taken, including in training.
Australia are 7/1 to win the Asian Cup.
The Socceroos are 5/2 to reach the final.
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