FIFA WORLD CUP

Fritz-Walter Stadion, Kaiserslautern, Germany

Referee: Essam Abdel Fatah | Attendance: 46000

* Local time based on your geographic location.

Australia

  • Tim Cahill 84'
  • Tim Cahill 89'
  • John Aloisi 90' +2'

3 - 1

FT

Game 12

Japan

  • Shunsuke Nakamura 26'

Australia 3-1 Japan

Tim Cahill scored twice in the last six minutes and John Aloisi added a third in injury time as Australia made a winning return to the World Cup finals with a 3-1 victory over Japan.

Everton midfielder Cahill came off the bench to score in the 84th and 89th minutes to overhaul a one-goal deficit after Japan had taken the lead following an error by Mark Schwarzer in the first half at Kaiserslautern's Fritz-Walter Stadium.

Aloisi then rounded off the victory in the Group F opener - Australia's first ever at the World Cup - 32 years after the nation's only previous appearance at the finals, also on German soil in 1974.

A goalkeeping error from Schwarzer handed Japan a 1-0 lead at half-time as Shunsuke Nakamura's goal separated the teams at the interval.

The Celtic midfielder clipped his left-footed cross into the six-yard box from the right and, as Schwarzer came to collect through a gaggle of players from both teams, he mis-read the flight of the ball and it sailed over everyone before bouncing over the line.

Nakamura's fortuitous goal gave Zico's team the lead against the run of play and came less than a minute after the Australians should have taken the lead in their most inspired passage of play in the opening 45 minutes.

Marco Bresciano surged towards the Japan penalty area before receiving a perfect return pass from Mark Viduka that left him one-on-one with Japan goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi.

Kawaguchi, however, was equal to the task, parrying the ball as Bresciano aimed for the bottom right corner and Yuji Nakazawa hooked the ball to safety.

While the Japanese profited from Schwarzer's mistake, it was Kawaguchi who was the busier of the two keepers. He denied Viduka twice in quick succession in the sixth minute, parrying the Australian's first effort after he met Bresciano's through ball and then pushing his effort on the rebound over the crossbar.

The Japanese, however, somehow managed to take the lead, although it was almost short lived as an incensed Harry Kewell stormed towards goal straight from the restart before fizzing a shot just inches over Kawaguchi's crossbar from the edge of the box.

Zico's team continued to offer little in attack as Naohiro Takahara and Atsushi Yanagisawa struggled and the Australians had every right to feel aggrieved going into the break a goal down, although they thought they had pulled level when Bresciano's free kick four minutes from the interval hit the side netting.

Socceross boss Guus Hiddink tried to kick-start his team into life eight minutes after the restart with the introduction of Cahill for Bresciano and in the 61st minute Joshua Kennedy came on from Craig Moore as the Australians sought to put more pressure on the Japanese defence.

But as the heat took its toll and the pace of the game dropped, the Japanese looked like they would hold out.

When the Australians did break through, Kawaguchi was on hand to deny them, the 31-year-old dropping sharply to his right to brilliantly deny Viduka as the Middlesbrough striker thumped his free-kick low through the defensive wall.

At the other end, Schwarzer continued to look overawed on the rare occasion he was called into action. Just before the hour mark he raced out of his area to head the ball clear, only to see it fall at the feet of Takahara, who should have done better with his effort, which was deflected to safety.

Aloisi replaced Luke Wilkshire as Hiddink took his last throw of the dice and the Osasuna forward was to have an impact on the outcome of the game as it was from his free-kick - again parried by Kawaguchi - that produced the throw-in that brought the equaliser.

A long throw from Lucas Neill was missed by Kawaguchi, the ball fell to Kewell, who was challenged by Yuichi Komano and Cahill struck the rebound home from 12 yards out.

As the seconds ticked away Takashi Fukunishi came close to restoring Japan's lead but his right-foot strike from the edge of the area was just wide. Japan also had a good penalty shout turned down when Cahill appeared to commit a foul in the area.

Cahill, however, gave the Socceroos the lead with a minute left of regular time with a fine effort from outside the box that beat Kawaguchi before hitting the post and crossing the goal line.

Japan threw on Masashi Oguro to try to salvage a point but the Australians went on the attack again and Aloisi completed the win with a fine finish from inside the penalty area as defenders backed away.

Scoring Summary

  • Australia
  • Japan
Tim Cahill (84')
Tim Cahill (89')
John Aloisi (90 + 2')

Match Stats

  • Australia
  • Japan
22(11) Shots (on goal) 9(3)
23 Fouls 11
5 Corner kicks 3
4 Offsides 3
55% Time of Possession 45%
4 Yellow Cards 3
0 Red Cards 0
6 Saves 10

Teams

  • Australia
  • Japan
Substitutes
Substitutions
Yellow Cards