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Australia wins 2nd Ashes test by 218 runs

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Adelaide, Dec 9 (AP) - Michael Clarke's Australians finished off England's tail-enders in less than an hour Monday to win the second test by 218 runs and take a 2-0 series lead into Perth, where they're aiming to reclaim the Ashes with a third straight win.
Australia won the series-opener by 381 in in Brisbane, only three months after losing 3-0 in England for its third consecutive Ashes defeat. Now Clarke and Co. are heading to the WACA ground at Perth, where England hasn't won since 1978 and where Mitchell Johnson bowls his best, confident they can end England's Ashes roll.
"The next test is what's important," Clarke said. "I'd love it to be three-nil - that's our goal."
The first test ended with angry, hostile exchanges between rival players, and the second test went the same way on day four with Johnson and Ben Stokes bumping into each other and Clarke getting involved with a batsman again. Clarke was fined after the first test, and players were expected to be cited by the International Cricket Council again.
Three dropped catches on the opening evening were costly for England, letting Australia off the hook after three quick dismissals. The Australians punished those errors and more on the second morning, recovering to make 570-9 declared with captain Clarke (148) and vice-captain Brad Haddin (118) sharing a 200-run partnership. Then Johnson turned the test upside down with a terrifying spell of 5-12 in 18 balls amid an innings haul of 7-40 as he skittled England for 172 on a pitch tailor-made for batting.
"That spell from Mitch helped us out a lot," Haddin said. "We thought it was going to be a hard slog that day."
Australia cruised to 132-3 in its second innings before Clarke declared again, 10 minutes before play on day four, setting England an improbable 531 to win or two days to survive for a draw. Not team had ever scored more than 418 in the fourth innings to win a test.
Resuming on 247-6 Monday, England was bowled out for 312. Joe Root (87) and Kevin Pietersen (53) prolonged the innings with a 111-run third-wicket stand on day four, and Matt Prior (69) batted defiantly until he was out hooking Peter Siddle (4-57) in the fifth day's rain-delayed session.
"The spirit is good. The guys are in a good place," Haddin said. "We'll enjoy tonight but it will be a massive test for us in Perth."
Clarke said Australia took confidence out of the big wins in Brisbane and Adelaide, and Johnson was providing the "X-Factor" in a well-balanced bowling attack. But he remains cautious when it comes to the series outcome, saying it was only Australia second test victory since January.
England captain Alastair Cook, who wilted to a Johnson short ball in the second innings and was out for 1, rued the dropped catches and the shot selection by batsmen in the first two tests.
"On the first day we had an opportunity, we let a few catches go and they made us pay for that," Cook said. "The main difference was Australia took their chances well. It's been a tough five days."
Johnson was voted player of the match for the second test in succession and now has 17 wickets for the series ahead of the third test at the WACA, where he revels in the extra pace and bounce and has his career-best figures.
Australia needed four wickets to win on the last day, but early morning rain and the forecast for a storm caused some nerves.
After the start of play by was delayed 10 minutes, Stuart Broad (29) pulled a six from Siddle on the fourth ball of the morning to drag England past 250.
But he was out trying the same trick to the next ball, pulling Siddle to Nathan Lyon at backward square leg to end a 45-run stand with Prior as England slipped to 255-7. Prior and Graeme Swann (6) added 38 before the No. 9 batsman edged Ryan Harris to Clarke at second slip.
After failing to post more than 180 in its first three innings of the series, Prior's cover drive off Siddle took England past 300 in the ninth over of the morning. But he was out next ball hooking Siddle to Harris, his score a vast improvement on the four runs he'd tallied in three previous innings.
Monty Panesar was the last man out, sparking celebrations in Australia. After comfortably winning the last three Ashes series, England is now possibly only a test away from losing the urn.
"What we can't do is feel sorry for ourselves," Cook said. "We're 2-0 down, but that doesn't mean we can't win (the series)."

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