Tim Cahill returned to Australian colours and the score sheet as the
Socceroos notched up a 2-1 friendly victory over Wales at Cardiff City
Stadium on Wednesday night.
In his first match for Australia
since January’s Asian Cup final, Cahill found the back of the net in the
44th minute before substitute Robbie Kruse doubled the lead in the 61st
Wales substitute Darcy Blake pulled one back in the 82nd minute by heading home a corner in front of a sparse crowd.
has now scored 24 times in 53 internationals and the Everton star
looked refreshed following his first genuine off-season in years.
The Socceroos open their World Cup qualifying campaign against Thailand in Brisbane on September 2.
entered the match ranked 112th to Australia’s 23rd, the home side
struggling to regularly field its strongest team with star player Gareth
Bale playing in red for the first time in 10 months.
McDonald edged out Kruse for the starting position up front next to
Cahill and Neil Kilkenny earned the nod in the centre of midfield ahead
of Mile Jedinak.
Australia had the better of the chances throughout the match and the Wales’ back four looked wobbly at times.
In the 20th minute, Australian midfielder Carl Valeri scuffed a good look at goal from the edge of the area.
Much of the lead-up talk had surrounded how defender Luke Wilkshire would handle Bale.
However it was the Tottenham star that was nearly caught out as Wilkshire came agonisingly close to scoring in the 35th minute.
The defender was given enough time and space to deliver a stinging shot from outside the area that crashed off the near post.
match stirred to life just before the break with Gareth Bale tumbling
in the penalty area in the 43rd minute under pressure from Brett
As the home fans voiced their frustration, the Socceroos grabbed the lead in the following minute.
delivered a teasing cross into the box with Cahill volleying the low
ball straight past Wales goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey from close range.
Australia made two changes at half time with Robbie Kruse coming on for Wilkshire and Rhys Williams on for Emerton.
had a good look at goal only two minutes after his introduction but
Hennessey blocked his shot with Valeri’s follow-up shot rebounding off
Wales finally had a look at goal in the 50th minute but substitute Jack Collison’s left foot shot went over the bar.
Australians doubled their lead when Hennessey was unable to deal with
Scott McDonald’s low cross and Kruse pounced from five metres out.
Troisi came on for Cahill in the 71st minute and Australia’s lead
looked safe until Blake scored with eight minutes left to play.