Sunday, July 08, 2007

Australia saved from shame by Cahill golden goal

Everton's Tim Cahill scored in stoppage time to salvage a 1-1 draw for Australia against Oman in their opening AFC Asian Cup 2007 match in Bangkok. The midfielder saved Socceroo embarrassment when he slammed the ball into the back of the net after a frantic goalmouth scramble, denying Oman an upset victory over the tournament favourites.

Oman, who are 26 places below Australia in FIFA rankings, led for almost an hour after Badar Mubarak scored in the first half. They missed another three clear chances to score again in the second half as the Australians began to wilt in the heat and humidity of a virtually empty Rajamangla Stadium. A tropical storm provided the Socceroos with the respite they needed to leave all four teams level in Group A following Thailand's 1-1 draw with Iraq on Saturday.

"We definitely got out of jail, our tournament could have been over," Australian defender Lucas Neill told Reuters. "We didn't play as well as we would like to but (the late goal) could prove very significant. As long as we don't lose any games, we should go through." However Australian coach Graham Arnold opined "it just goes to show how difficult Asia is going to be, especially with the extreme conditions. Mark Schwarzer had a couple of great saves, otherwise we would have been in serious trouble."

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