Australia finally make their mark in World Cup
KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany, June 12: Australia exorcised the demons of their past World Cup failures by scoring three goals in the dying minutes in a stunning 3-1 win over Japan today.
Australia's miserable World Cup history looked like repeating itself when the Socceroos went behind to a disputed first half goal when the soccer gods suddenly changed shirts.
Substitute Tim Cahill equalised in the 84th minute to claim Australia's first goal at a World Cup then added a second to put his team ahead before John Aloisi put the result beyond doubt with a third in injury time.
''In the end justice was done in this game,'' Australia coach Guus Hiddink told a news conference.
''I'm not saying this out of arrogance, but we were sure that we were capable of (coming back).
''This team is nice to work with because they never give up, and this team tried to play good football.'' Aloisi said the players all shared Hiddink's confidence but were aware that time was running out for them.
''When you're on the pitch you don't think about it (losing)...
we were just trying to create something and luckily enough we did.
''We were not nervous and physically we were strong. It was hot out there but we just kept at it.'' Defender Lucas Neill, whose long throw-in led to the equaliser, said Hiddink had been the mastermind behind Australia's victory.
The canny Dutchman, who had coached the Netherlands and Korea to the semi-finals at the last two World Cups, threw four strikers in at the end in a risky gamble that paid off.
''He makes big decisions in special moments and yet again he's pulled off another masterstroke,'' Neil said.
''We always knew we had the ability but time was running out.
''I think mentally and physically they (Japan) were very drained and we had a bit left...one thing the other team doesn't have is Aussie spirit.'' Australia had failed to score a single goal in their only previous World Cup appearance in 1974 and had been plagued by bad luck, bad draws and bad play ever since.
A series of heart-breaking playoff losses haunted them for the better part of 32 years when their luck finally took a turn for the better when they beat Uruguay on penalties last year to earn their place in Germany.
''Just being a part of this World Cup means everything to all of us,'' Cahill said.
''We've all worked ever so hard to be here, and the goal is just the icing on the cake,'' he added, referring to his historic first goal.