The Socceroos’ transformation from Asian roadkill to road warriors continues, as Pim Verbeek’s men started building a fast lane to South Africa by overrunning dangerous Uzbekistan in Tashkent.

Verbeek stopped short of declaring Australia’s outstanding 1-0 win over Uzbekistan at the Pakhtakor Stadium to commence the final stage of Asian World Cup qualifying the best under his reign.

But for the third time in six months, the Socceroos picked up priceless World Cup qualifying points in hostile territory to start the business end of their 2010 World Cup finals campaign in style.

From the team with pumped-up tyres that deflated in the Asian Cup heat last year, the Socceroos ditched their Asian training wheels with a cool, composed, intelligent performance to deservedly dispose of an Uzbek team considered a major threat to Australia’s hopes of direct World Cup qualification.

Scott Chipperfield’s 26th-minute goal proved the difference for Australia, who silenced a 35,000-strong crowd by dominating in an impressive first 45 minutes.

Then, led by skipper Lucas Neill and Chris Coyne’s stoic defending, the Socceroos weathered a 20-minute second-half blitz from the Uzbeks and held their nerve for the rest to grab an important three points in their Group A opener.

It follows similar results in the previous stage of World Cup qualifying – a scoreless draw against China in difficult Kunming in March and a superb 3-1 win over Qatar in draining Doha in June.

“Away, Uzbekistan, three points, fantastic,” Verbeek said after the match.

“Football-wise, we have played better. But if you look for the commitment and attitude of the boys and the way they worked hard for each other, I think they did a great job.”

Australia must finish in the top two of their five-team group to qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa.

They now sit equal second in their group with Japan, after Qatar moved to the top with a 1-1 draw against Bahrain in Doha today.

But the Qataris have played two games to Australia and Japan’s one.

Uzbekistan have now lost their opening two matches, and face an uphill battle to qualify directly from the group.

The Socceroos overcame a pre-match setback, with key midfielder Jason Culina ruled out prior to kick-off with a stomach virus which affected several members of the squad, including defender Jade North and assistant coach Henk Duut.

Yet the only ones ailing in the first half were the Uzbeks, after Chipperfield headed home a pinpoint Luke Wilkshire cross midway through the first half to give the Socceroos a lead they never relinquished.

Australia could have been 2-0 up by halftime, but midfielder Mark Bresciano squandered a one-on-one chance in first half stoppage time.

Uzbekistan had three clear-cut chances to equalise.

Wilkshire cleared a second half effort from Jasur Hasanov off the line, while Uzbekistan skipper Maksim Shatskikh twice came up empty – coming closest in injury time when he just failed to connect with a cross directly in front of goal.

“Obviously the first game of qualifying, you want to get off to a great start which we did,” Chipperfield told Fox Sports.

“We’re going to be confident going to the next few games now.

“It’s a great start away from home to get three points. You target to win your home games and pick up points on the road. Today’s a great bonus for us.”

The Socceroos’ next World Cup qualifier is a top-of-the-table clash with Qatar in Brisbane on October 15.