Tim Cahill's best Socceroos rescue missions

Thursday, 12 October 2017, 06:40:40 PM. It's no surprise Tim Cahill was the man to save the Socceroos against Syria — remind yourself of some his best rescue work on the international stage.

tim-cahill-and-039;s-best-socceroos-rescue-missions photo 1 Photo: When Tim Cahill scored Australia's first and second-ever World Cup finals goals, he lifted them to victory over Japan. (Reuters: Dylan Martinez)

If it sounds like a broken record, that's because it is — Tim Cahill has saved the Socceroos again with a vital double against Syria in their World Cup qualifying play-off in Sydney.

Two trademark headers, one in the first half, one in extra time, gave Australia a 2-1 win over the Syrians to put Australia into a final World Cup play-off for a place in Russia.

The man is a little under two months away from turning 38, and he's still doing it: stepping up in big situations to get his team out of trouble.

You might argue that at this stage, it would be nice if some other Australian stars could take the responsibility and take their chances when it counted, or even question whether the Socceroos deserve to have Cahill still bailing them out time after time.

That argument is for another time, however.

In the meantime, take a look back at some of the previous best rescue missions undertaken by Australia's number four.

2006: Australia v Japan, World Cup finals

The original, and still the best. The venue was Kaiserslautern, it was 2006, and Australia was playing Japan in the group stages of the Socceroos' first World Cup in 32 years. No pressure, then.

The Socceroos went behind when Shunsuke Nakamura scored in the 26th minute. The Aussies tried to force an equaliser, but it was still 1-0 with six minutes left.

External Link: Tim Cahill goals against Japan at World Cup 2006

Suddenly there was a long throw, a blocked shot from Harry Kewell, and there was super-sub Cahill to toe-poke it home to make it 1-1, grabbing Australia's first-ever World Cup finals goal in the process.

He introduced the world to the corner flag punching routine that would become his trademark celebration.

Cahill wasn't finished yet, either. Five minutes later, he took possession on the edge of the box, had a couple of quick touches and then cracked it in off the post past Japanese keeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi for 2-1.

John Aloisi bagged a third in the dying stages, but it was Cahill who saved the day for Australia.

2007: Australia v Oman, Asian Cup finals

tim-cahill-and-039;s-best-socceroos-rescue-missions photo 2 Photo: He left it late, but Tim Cahill's added-time goal against Oman at the 2007 Asian Cup was worth the wait for the Socceroos. (Reuters: Jerry Lampen)

No longer in Oceania, Australia was now a part of the Asian Confederation and the team secured a spot at the 2007 Asian Cup.

External Link: Tim Cahill scores against Oman

First up, a game the Socceroos were expected to win against Oman, but — stop me if you've heard this before — they went behind to a goal from Badar Al-Maimani around the half-hour mark.

Again, they struggled to find a way through. This time the clock ticked into added time and there was still no goal.

Finally, Marco Bresciano sent a shot in from the right edge of the box. The goalie parried it but Cahill — off the bench once more — was there to slam the ball home from close range.

Australia would go on to reach the knockout stage before going out to Japan in the quarter-finals, but Cahill had done his job again.

2009: Australia v Japan, World Cup qualification

tim-cahill-and-039;s-best-socceroos-rescue-missions photo 3 Photo: A World Cup spot was already secure, but Tim Cahill's double against Japan gave the Socceroos a win at the MCG. (Reuters: Daniel Munoz)

Three years on from Germany, the Socceroos had already secured their spot in the 2010 World Cup when the Blue Samurai came to the MCG for the final match of the campaign.

The Australians wanted to go one better than their draw in Japan earlier in qualifying, but just like Kaiserslautern, they went 1-0 down to a goal from Marcus Tulio Tanaka a few minutes before the break.

You could almost write the script yourself.

Just before the hour mark, the ball was swung into the Japanese box, and Cahill's spring-heeled leap got him to the ball first to nod it past the keeper into the corner of the net for 1-1.

The roars got louder at the 'G a quarter of an hour later, as a corner kick sent the ball into the corridor of uncertainty, the Japanese defence failed to clear and it fell to Cahill to bundle it home from a metre out.

2009: Australia v Oman, Asian Cup qualification

The Australians had drawn with Indonesia away and lost 1-0 to Kuwait in Canberra to put them behind the eight-ball in qualification for the 2011 Asian Cup.

They then faced Oman at Docklands in a game they needed to win.

But the fancied Socceroos could not find a way through in the first half, and with the game still locked at 0-0 with under 20 minutes to go, the tension was rising.

Then Scott Chipperfield got free on the left, cut inside and hit a low cross which eluded everyone at the near post, only for Cahill to slide in and get his boot to it back across goal and in off the post.

It wasn't pretty, but the 1-0 win got the Aussies back on the road to the 2011 finals in Qatar.

2012: Australia v Iraq, World Cup qualifiers

This qualifier in Doha, Qatar shaped as a game of frustration, with the visitors unable to get the lead, and when Alaa Abdul-Zahra scored with 18 minutes left, things looked grim.

But for a man who stands just 178cm, Tim Cahill has a prodigious leap in him, as countless defences have been reminded over the years.

There were 11 minutes to go when a corner came in, and he was there with a well-timed run to launch and nod the ball into the net for the equaliser.

Archie Thompson went on to score the winner minutes later.

2014: Australia v Netherlands, World Cup finals

tim-cahill-and-039;s-best-socceroos-rescue-missions photo 4 Photo: Cahill made the world sit up and take notice with his spectacular effort for the Socceroos against the Dutch at World Cup 2014. (Reuters: Darren Staples)

Ok, so this doesn't count as a traditional save, since Australia went on to lose the match.

External Link: Tim Cahill goal against Netherlands

But the Socceroos were under the pump going into the World Cup in Brazil, with the sacking of Holger Osieck after consecutive 6-0 drubbings to France and Brazil leading to the hiring of Ange Postecoglou.

After a 3-1 loss to Chile, the Socceroos faced the Dutch, who had made the final four years earlier.

Arjen Robben put the Netherlands ahead early, but then enter Cahill, who produced arguably the best Socceroos goal of all time.

The ball lobbed in over the top of the defence, and the number four was there to meet it with a ferocious volley across his body that crashed into the net past Jasper Cillessen. Madness ensued.

"What a sensational volley, from the pensioner Tim Cahill!" was how one commentator described it.

The Dutch won the game 3-2, but Cahill's goal and Australia's performance began to turn the negatives into positives for the Socceroos, which would bear fruit a year later.

2015: Australia v China, Asian Cup finals

tim-cahill-and-039;s-best-socceroos-rescue-missions photo 5 Photo: Timing is everything in football, and Tim Cahill timed his bicycle kick perfectly against China at the Asian Cup. (Reuters: Edgar Su)

At the 2015 Asian Cup, Australia was on home soil, playing with expectation of a big result in the continental competition.

The Socceroos got through to the quarter-finals, where they went in as hot favourites against China.

External Link: Tim Cahill goal against China

After a goalless first half, the nerves began to jangle a bit, but there was no surprises as to who broke the deadlock in the 48th minute.

The ball was headed back into the box, where it fell to Cahill with his back to goal. A shot on the turn was the likely move, but the striker had something else in mind — timing a bicycle kick perfectly to send it into the corner of the net.

In the 65th minute he did it again, rising high to head the ball past the keeper to seal a spot in the semis, on the way to an historic Asian Cup win for Australia.

This is, of course, only a handful of the 50 international goals he has scored for Australia.

But these are some of the ones that had an impact.

And if Australia is to somehow make it to a fourth straight World Cup finals, would anyone right now bet against it being Cahill who gets the job done?

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Article Tim Cahill's best Socceroos rescue missions compiled by www.abc.net.au