Cahill fires Aussies
Tim Cahill once again proved Australia's saviour by scoring the winner against Oman to put the Socceroos on top of its Asian Cup qualifying group here on Wednesday.
Oman looked set to frustrate the Socceroos team of European stars before the Everton midfielder rifled home the winner 16 minutes from time.
It was Cahill's 19th goal in 36 internationals.
The hard-earned victory hoisted Australia to the top of Group B with a crucial three points after their scratchy start to qualifying for the 2011 tournament in Qatar.
The Aussies had put themselves in trouble when a below-strength side was upset 1-0 by Kuwait in Canberra in March after drawing 0-0 with Indonesia in Jakarta last January.
Oman looked on course to repeat their determined performance from the 2007 Asian Cup in Bangkok when the Australians needed an injury-time goal from Cahill to scrape home with a 1-1 draw.
But Australia's repeated attacks finally were rewarded by Cahill's strike.
Oman weathered an early Socceroos onslaught and matched their more illustrious rivals for the rest of the opening 45 minutes.
A Cahill header skimmed the bar and Josh Kennedy had a shot saved before the Omanis worked their way back into the contest.
Midfielder Fawzi Bashir gave the Aussies a big fright in the 23rd minute when goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer pushed his fizzing volley on to an upright, before Amad Al Hosni blasted over the bar after being put through by Bashir minutes later.
Kennedy then had a header well saved by goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi before midfielder Jason Culina let fly with a rasping long-range volley that was just wide in first-half stoppage time.
Al Habsi had the good fortune of saving Lucas Neill's shot with his head just after the resumption as Oman rode their luck.
Cahill finally broke the deadlock in the 74th minute after Scott Chipperfield broke free on the left.
Hi pass was flicked on by Kennedy into the path of Cahill whose volley went in off the far post to the relief of the 20,595 home crowd.
Oman host the return leg against the Socceroos in Muscat on November 14.