Cahill and Holman spare Australia's blushes

Despite Oman going 2-0 ahead, Wallabies bounce back in second half to keep their World Cup qualifying campaign on track.

Last Modified: 26 Mar 2013 13:45
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Tim Cahill (top) proved deadly in the air - here scoring a header to start fightback for the Socceroos [GALLO/GETTY]

Brett Holman helped Australia keep their World Cup qualifying hopes alive with a late long-range goal that salvaged a 2-2 draw and denied a fighting Oman an upset victory in Sydney on Tuesday.

The Omanis went 2-0 up in the 49th minute but Tim Cahill, who was a constant menace, pulled one back with a trademark header three minutes later.

And Holman, who has been little used by English Premier League strugglers Aston Villa this season, saved Australia from a humiliating home defeat when he unleashed a fierce long-range volley with five minutes left of normal time.

"We had a game plan, we didn't stick to it, we didn't move the ball quick enough in the first half and at the end of the day this is what could make the difference between qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil"

Australia's Tim Cahill 

The equaliser meant Australia salvaged a point to stay in second spot in Asia Group B, behind Japan.

But the Australians, ranked 39th in the world, 66 places above the Omanis, will rue missing out on two crucial points as they bid for their third straight World Cup finals appearance in Brazil next year.

The Socceroos have just one win and six points from five qualifying games, and must at least maintain their number two spot in group B with three games to play.

"For us it's disappointing. We had a game plan, we didn't stick to it, we didn't move the ball quick enough in the first half and at the end of the day this is what could make the difference between qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil," Cahill said.

"They didn't surprise us. We surprised ourselves. We are a lot better than that and we were trying to make the killer ball all the time, we've got to play football.

"They (Oman) are coming here to waste time and ruin the game and overall we've got to look at ourselves instead of what they did."

Cahill battle

Oman meanwhile move ahead of Iraq and Jordan into third place with two games to go.

The Omanis rocked Australia with a goal from virtually their first attack in the sixth minute.

Amad Al-Hosni played in Abdulaziz Al-Miqbali, who got the better of defender Michael Thwaite and beat Fulham goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer from a tight angle with a left-foot drive.

It was Al-Miqbali's fourth goal in his 14th international and gave Oman a psychological boost against the flat Australians, who were missing suspended skipper Lucas Neill.

For much of the opening 45 minutes goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi, who plays for Wigan Athletic in the EPL, had little to do.

And the night took a turn for the worse for the Australians when Crystal Palace midfielder Mile Jedinak conceded an own goal in the 49th minute after an innocuous cross from Raed Ibrahim.

But minutes later Australia hit back through talisman Cahill with his 27th international goal. Cahill outjumped Al-Mukhaini to head home Luke Wilkshire's corner and wake the Australians from their lethargy.

It was Cahill again who forced Al-Habsi into a flying save to beat away his bullet header off another corner with 16 minutes left.

And another Cahill header, from a corner, bounced over the bar to Oman's relief.

Holman rescued the desperate Australians when he unleashed a fierce drive outside the area to beat Al-Habsi in the 85th minute.

And Cahill could have pinched it for Australia deep in injury time with yet another header, but Al-Habsi got down well to beat the ball away.

"Let's say we had a poor first half and we simply played way too slow and the penetrating ball never came, we played in front of them and I knew that Oman would have that kind of shape," Australia coach Holger Osieck said.

"Second half we showed a lot more spirit and I give credit to our experienced players, they really changed it and with a bit of luck we could have scored again."


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