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Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Cahill's late double stuns Japan

Australia stormed home with three goals in the final eight minutes for a stunning 3-1 come-from-behind victory over Japan in their Group F World Cup match in Kaiserslautern early this morning.

Tim Cahill scored twice and John Aloisi added the third to seal the Socceroos' first World Cup win and their first ever goals in only their second finals' appearance in 32 years.

The Australians looked headed for a deflating opening defeat in sapping heat when they were rocked by a controversial 26th-minute goal from Japan playmaker Shunsuke Nakamura.

But a double from Everton midfielder Cahill, who came on eight minutes after half-time, and another goal from substitute striker Aloisi turned the game around sensationally as the Australians were rewarded for their all-out attack.

Cahill fired home in a goalmouth scramble in the 84th minute after goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi failed to clear.

He was on the spot again four minutes to lash home a volley that rebounded off the left post into the goal.

The Japanese were reeling and Aloisi pounced for his team's third goal nearing full-time, evading defender Yuichi Komano to rifle home a left-foot volley and send the gold-clad Australian fans into uproar.

"In the end justice was done in this game," Australia coach Guus Hiddink said, maintaining that the Japan goal should have been disallowed.

"I think the referee will thank God for the result - it was a clear foul on the goalie."

Japan coach Zico criticised his team for sitting back after going 1-0 up.

"We did not do anything after taking the lead," the Brazilian said. "We had two clear goalscoring chances on the counter-attack but if you do not put the ball in at one end you sometimes concede it at the other.

"The way Australia turned the game on its head is difficult for us to stomach."

It all looked to be going sour for the Aussies after Nakamura's controversial goal.

The Celtic midfielder lobbed in a cross from the right and Australian goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer appeared to be knocked off balance by Naohiro Takahara in going for the ball which bounced into the unguarded goal.

Egyptian referee Essam Abdullah el Fatah enraged the Australian players when he awarded the goal and was confronted by a couple of players remonstrating with his decision.

Australia were always up against it before Hiddink risked everything to throw on Aloisi and striker Josh Kennedy along with attacking midfielder Cahill to save the match.

The well-marshalled Japanese looked to have repulsed the incessant Australian attacks before Cahill's equalising goal rattled their composure and started the comeback.

"This team is nice to work with because they never give up," Cahill said.

"Just being a part of this World Cup means everything to all of us. We've all worked ever so hard to be here and the goals are just the icing on the cake."

Australia now head to Munich next Sunday for their clash with World Cup holders Brazil, while Japan must regroup against Croatia in Nuremberg.

Hiddink further enhanced his reputation as one of the great modern-day coaches with the substitutions which altered the course of the match and gave Australia genuine hope of progressing to the last 16.

At the end of the match, Midfieldder and hero Tim Cahill was also picked as the man of the match.


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