Cahill magic puts Socceroos through
23 January 2015
FOOTBALL: Forget the bluster about the dawn of new age, Tim Cahill remains Australian soccer with his golden brace sending his country into the Asian Cup semi-finals.
Cahill crafted another chapter in his seemingly endless story, scoring both goals in Australia's 2-0 triumph against China in Thursday night's quarter-final.
The first was an audacious feat; a daring scissor-kick to rival any of his 39 goals for his country.
The second was a Cahill trademark; jumping high, heading past a despairing and diving goalkeeper.
Both stunners came in a 17-minute span in the second half as Australia cracked China's great wall of defence to secure a semi-final in Newcastle next Tuesday.
Most likely, they will confront defending champions Japan, who are favoured to overcome United Arab Emirates in a quarter-final on Friday.
With Cahill on their side, anything is possible for the Socceroos who, despite undergoing regeneration, still rely on their peerless 35-year-old hero.
Cahill's brace was justly rewarded with a standing ovation from the 46,067-strong crowd in Brisbane when he was substituted, job done, in the 80th minute.
Cahill was among seven changes to the Australian starting line-up as coach Ange Postecoglou deployed his heavy artillery.
The ins don't come any bigger for the Socceroos and also included captain Mile Jedinak, Robbie Kruse, Mathew Leckie and Mark Bresciano, who was given his first start of the tournament.
The Australians dominated a scoreless first half against a Chinese outfit content to sit back and look for counter-attacking opportunities.
By halftime, the Socceroos recorded 77 per cent possession and 296 passes to China's 85 - yet for all that, each nation logged two shots on target for the half.
Australia couldn't convert their two gilt-edged chances - a thundering Leckie left-footer and a Trent Sainsbury free header from close range.
As so often in the past, they needed a killer punch - and Cahill duly delivered.
His wondrous 48th minute scissor-kick came as his marker, Chinese captain Zheng Zhi, lay on the ground, felled in a tangle with Cahill for a corner.
The post-tangle rebound sailed to Ivan Franjic who headed hopefully back in Cahill's direction.
In an instant, Cahill perfectly summed up the situation and launched into a right-footed scissor-kick for a goal that ranks alongside his celebrated volley goal in last year's World Cup fixture against the Netherlands.
His second was more common: finding time and space in the box, Cahill sweetly nodded in a Jason Davidson cross.