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Cahill's stunning cameo nets victory

Soccer

Tim Cahill has climbed from the bench to deliver Australia a stunning smash-and-grab success over United Arab Emirates in their World Cup qualifier in Abu Dhabi overnight.

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Cahill’s second-half volley, his 48th goal for the Socceroos, ensured a 1-0 win and maintains Australia’s winning record in this final qualifying phase.

For more than an hour at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, Australia toiled but looked like coming up short in oppressive conditions.

Cahill changed that within four minutes of his arrival, timing his run into the box to volley home Brad Smith’s centimetre-perfect cross.

Anything short of a win would have been an injustice to Postecoglou’s side.

In front of an energetic crowd of 40,893 – including injured captain Mile Jedinak – the Socceroos dominated from the get-go.

Robbie Kruse and Tom Rogic saw fierce first-half strikes saved, while Aaron Mooy menaced with both corner kicks and a direct free kick that was headed over.

At half-time the shots count was 8-1 in Australia’s favour, with the home side kept to a third of possession.

Without a knockout punch from Australia, UAE remained in the contest.

Prodigiously-talented midfielder Omar Abdulrahman floated behind the front two, showing his ability to conjure something from nothing.

Twice Socceroo defenders were forced to make last-gasp clearances from Abdulrahman’s chipped balls, with Trent Sainsbury and Smith stopping one-on-one chances.

After the break Australia’s torment of the UAE goal continued.

Mooy unleashed a half-volley onto the bar during a spell of utter dominance, while at the other end, Ali Mabkhout spurned a mighty chance by volleying over from close range.

It would be a costly miss, with Cahill leaving his mark to put Australia on top of their qualifying group after two of 10 matches.

-AAP

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