• ‘I score goals like that every day in the garden’
• Arjen Robben says Dutch lacked ‘focus and concentration’
Tim Cahill has described his volleyed goal against Holland as one of the proudest moments of his career – but also claimed that he “scores like that every day in the garden”. The Australian’s glorious first-half effort at the Estádio Beira-Rio on Wednesday has been mentioned in the same breath as Marco van Basten’s memorable volley for Holland in the European Championship final in 1988 and is an early contender for goal of the tournament in Brazil.
Taking the ball over his shoulder and striking it first time with his left foot, Cahill could not have made a sweeter connection with Ryan McGowan’s raking diagonal pass. The former Everton midfielder’s shot flashed past Jasper Cillessen in the blink of an eye, clipped the underside of the bar and bounced over the line. It was a moment of jaw-dropping brilliance and cancelled out the lead that Arjen Robben had given an under-par Holland only 70 seconds earlier.
It also took Cahill’s tally of World Cup goals to five – a remarkable achievement considering Australia have only once got of the group stage in the three tournaments that the 34-year-old has appeared in since 2006 – and drew praise from the great and good of football.
“I score goals like that every day in the garden, so to do it on the biggest stage in the world makes me very proud,” Cahill said. “That goal is right up there, it is just the way it went in. You think of Van Basten and [Robin] van Persie and players like that, but people only ever expect me to score headers, regardless of some of the goals I have scored in my career. There’s the thought that Brazil is the home of football and I am sure that goal resonated around the world, so this is a goal that me, my family and friends can share for ever.”
For Cahill, who became the first Australian to score in three World Cups when he headed home in the opening match against Chile, the volley against Holland was reward for a career in which he has not always got the credit he deserves for a prolific goal return from midfield. He averaged close to a goal every four games during his eight years at Everton and was a regular scorer at Millwall before moving to Goodison Park in 2004.
“I suppose I have always fought against adversity in football,” said Cahill, who is suspended for Australia’s final group game, against Spain, after he picked up his second booking of the tournament in the loss to Holland. “I have played today against some of my heroes in Van Persie and Robben. Coming from Millwall, that’s where the dream all started for me and that’s something I will never forget along with my time at Everton.
“I was never the best player but when you have a heart, and you learned how to play English-style football from Millwall and Everton, they can’t stop you when you produce moments like that [against Holland]. You never go into a title fight thinking you are going to lose and when you get that one chance you have to take it. And in the defining moments in my career, that has made a difference to me.”
Cahill’s goal was not enough to keep Australia in the tournament, after Holland fought back from 2-1 down to seal a thrilling 3-2 victory in Porto Alegre, but the Socceroos emerged with huge credit for a courageous display against a team who had hammered Spain 5-1 five days previously.
For Holland, who need to avoid defeat against Chile to finish top of Group B, their performance against Australia brought them back down to earth with a bump. “The first half, we just played really bad. We were just sleeping,” Robben said. “We made a lot of mistakes in possession. Actually, everything just went wrong, we weren’t in the game. We had a lack of focus and concentration. This should not happen during a match.
“[Australia] played really aggressive, you could really see they played for their last chance, especially in the first half. We were a little under pressure but still gave the ball away too easily and that’s why we never came into the game. After 1-0 you have to keep that distance and after seconds they equalised and that should never happen.”