Cahill comes to Australia rescue again

Tim Cahill produced another Houdini act, just like 12 months ago in Germany, the Everton midfielder rescuing Australia from what looked like a shock defeat against Oman, with an injury time goal to earn a 1-1 draw.

Tim Cahill produced another Houdini act, just like 12 months ago in Germany, the Everton midfielder rescuing Australia from what looked like a shock defeat against Oman, with an injury time goal to earn a 1-1 draw.

It looked like Australia-s debut assault in the Asian Cup was going to start with an unexpected loss, but just as he did against Japan in Kaiserslautern at the World Cup finals; Cahill came off the bench and grabbed a precious point.

However, truth be told, it was Australia-s goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer that was the real hero, saving his side on at least three occasions in the second half with magnificent saves.

The Middlesbrough keeper stood tall, as the well-drilled Oman side, playing a counter-attacking game, looked more comfortable in the stifling conditions and threatened the Australian goal on numerous occasions.

What the match showed, was Australia is no certainty to win this tournament, as Oman more than matched Australia across the park, restricting the tournament favourites to just a few opportunities throughout the match.

But all the talk will be of Cahill and his repeat of his World Cup heroics a year ago, when he scored twice in the final five minutes to set up an extraordinary win over Japan.

Coming on just after the hour mark, having not played a match in over three months because of a foot injury, Cahill was on the spot to smash home a rebound, a minute into injury time and set wild celebrations among the Australian supporters in the ground.

Some might say it was more than they deserved, but what it does show, is that you can never discount an Australian team until the final whistle.

The first half in particular showed that this was not going to be an easy match for Australia, especially with the heat and humidity clearly stifling Australia-s style of play.

Trying to conserve energy in the sapping conditions, Australia-s play was slow and allowed Oman, who looked more comfortable, to dictate, especially on the counter-attack, which is where they proved very dangerous.

They were rewarded in the 32nd minute when Badar Al-Maimani scored for Oman after Imad Al Hosni was given acres of space on the left and his cutback found Badar on the edge of the box and his shot proved too powerful for Schwarzer, despite getting a hand to it.

Australia did though have it chances prior to this, none better than the one for Harry Kewell, when he managed to get in behind the defence from a free kick. But with only the keeper to beat from close range, Kewell appeared to try and guide a pass to Viduka, instead of shooting and the chance went begging.

Coach Graham Arnold made a tactical change at half time, with John Aloisi replacing Mile Sterjovski, who had no impact and the urgency was noticeable from the start.

However it was Oman that created the first decent chance of the half with Al-Mahaijri given too much space on the edge. His low shot was goal bound until Schwarzer flung himself low to his right to push it away.

Aloisi went close with a header in the 66th minute, following a terrific free kick from Wilkshire, but it was Schwarzer who was the busier of the two keepers.

He came to Australia-s rescue in the 71st minute, when Al Hosni was gifted a free header in the box, but the Boro keeper somehow kept it out and the Al Hosni put the rebound wide.

Schwarzer again came to Australia-s rescue when Fawzi Basheer broke clear into the penalty area, but he too was thwarted by Schwarzer with a point blank save, when it looked like a second goal looked on the cards.

With Oman throwing everybody behind the ball, finding a chance to equalise was proving difficult, but down came the rain and Australia lifted its urgency for an equaliser.

Viduka brilliantly created a chance for himself in 84th minute, but his shot was blocked out to Cahill, whose shot was also blocked back as far as Bresciano and his first time shot was cleared away.

But the breakthrough came when a long ball was played into Brett Holman on the edge of the box. He turned and shot, but it was blocked out to Bresciano, who hit a first time shot that was parried by Oman keeper Ali Al Habsi. Cahill was quickest to react to the loose ball and smashed home from close range to spare Australia-s blushes.

The result means that all four teams in the group are level on a point each and the group is still up for grabs, with Australia-s next match against the fancied Iraq team, who were initially expected to be Australia-s toughest opponent in the group.

Match Details

Australia 1 (Tim Cahill 91-) Oman 1 (Al-Maimani 32-)

Australian line-up: Mark Schwarzer (gk); Lucas Neill, Patrick Kisnorbo (Brett Holman 79-), Jason Culina, Brett Emerton, Luke Wilkshire, Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell, Vince Grella (Tim Cahill 62-), Mile Sterjovski (John Aloisi 46-), Mark Bresciano

Cautions: Emerton (18-), Cahill (89-)