Tim Cahill stepped off the bench to hand Australia a hard-fought 1-0 victory over United Arab Emirates in their World Cup qualifier at the at Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium on Tuesday.
The veteran forward had only been on the pitch for four minutes when he tucked home at the far post to secure all three points for the Socceroos in stifling conditions in Abu Dhabi.
Ange Postecoglou’s side had toiled for 74 minutes without success prior to Cahill’s introduction, having totally dominated this third-round Group B encounter.
Robbie Kruse and Tom Rogic forced UAE goalkeeper Khalid Eisa to save their respective shots in the first half, while a free-kick from Aaron Mooy threatened to break the deadlock.
Mooy went close again after the break with a fierce shot on the half-volley that crashed back off the crossbar, before Ali Mabkhout wasted a rare chance for the hosts by sending his volley over the target from close range,
With time running out, Postecoglou threw on Cahill for Tomi Juric and the substitute made an immediate impact as he latched onto Brad Smith’s cross from the left and side-footed home at the far post from six yards out.
The win takes Australia top of the group after two matches, level on six points with Saudi Arabia, with the UAE a further three points adrift in fourth place.