Cahill double fires Australia past China and into Asian Cup semis
Tim Cahill was Australia’s hero after his two second-half goals secured a 2-0 Asian Cup quarter-final win over China and set up a semi-final clash against Japan or UAE.
After his incredible volley at the World Cup in Brazil against Holland, the New York Red Bulls man did it again with a moment of genius to prize open a stubborn Chinese defence just after the break.
A bicycle-kick with his back to goal will go down as one of Australia’s great goals, and vital too after their opponents had shown they are a rising force under coach Alain Perrin.
A trademark powerful header by Cahill sealed the victory on 65 minutes and ended the fight put up by a resilient China side who showed plenty of promise.
It was a nervy opening for Australia as China rose to the occasion in front of their loud fans, who occupied roughly half the 52,000 seat Brisbane Stadium.
An early scare saw Mat Ryan forced to rush a clearance under pressure in his six-yard box. Then Wilkinson’s perfectly timed tackle averted danger after the pacy Wu Lei burst through.
The same man then profited from a loose ball by Jedinak but his run and shot was deflected wide for a corner. Minutes later Zhang Chengdong’s cut back almost resulted in an opener as the team in white sensed an upset.
The midfielder then sent over another with a pin-point set piece with his right boot which found Trent Sainsbury, but he could only power his header just over.
But Australia’s best chance came on 28 minutes as the home fans found their voice. Matt Leckie jinked past the China defence then unleashed a powerful left foot drive inside the box that was parried away by Wang Dalei
Nothing could separate the two sides at the break and it took a moment of pure inspiration to break the deadlock in the second half.
On 49 minutes an Australia corner was cleared, with Ivan Franjic heading the ball back into the box where Cahill stood to the left of goal. He met the ball with his back to goal and produced an incredible bicycle kick that arrowed across goal and into the opposite side of the net.
The Socceroos were soon playing with a swagger as they threatened to open up China again.
Bresciano missed a perfect opportunity to make it 2-0 as he blasted over from Leckie’s through pass before being withdrawn for James Troisi just on the hour mark.
Cahill then went close to a second with a brilliant turn and shot that was parried wide by the keeper as the Socceroos turned the screw, but on 65 minutes China’s resistance was broken again.
Davidson delivered a perfect cross for Cahill near the penalty box and his angled header down beat the keeper to his left.
With space opening up late on the Aussies could well have made it three, with Mark Milligan bursting through the Chinese defence before firing wide, but in the end 2-0 was enough to seal a semi-final clash against Japan or UAE.
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