It was just that kind of day for Tim Cahill and Australia.
First came the euphoria of scoring a thunderous left-footed volley in the 21st minute of their second game of the World Cup, and then, 22 minutes later, the letdown of a yellow-card for a tackle on Netherlands center back Bruno Martins Indi that will suspend him for the Socceroos’ Group B finale against Spain on June 23.
But there won't be another game for Australia. Chile's 2-0 win over the Spanish on Wednesday mathematically eliminated them from the knockout stages. That goal and that yellow-card are the last acts of the 34-year-old Cahill's World Cup career. But what a finale it was.
“I’m really delighted for him,” Australia head coach Ange Postecoglou said in the postgame press conference. “I kind of said to him that I wanted this to be his best World Cup, and he’s definitely got one for the highlights reel.”
Despite their status as underdogs, the Australians came out swinging against an Oranje team that was coming off a 5-1 drubbing of Spain, and for much of the opening frame they controlled the game.
The Netherlands took advantage of their first good chance when Arjen Robben finished off a counterattack by slotting the ball past Australia goalkeeper Matthew Ryan to make the score 1-0. Just seconds later, Cahill answered back with arguably the best goal of the tournament thus far. (Watch it below.)
“Timmy was Timmy,” Postecoglou said. “He was outstanding. I said that he was going to be a handful for any opposition, and it was a world-class goal.”
Australia will now have to figure out how to get a result against the reigning world champions without their talisman. The Socceroos have scored 11 goals in World Cup history, and Cahill has five of them.
“All along, I haven’t made one mention of players who have missed out,” Postecoglou said. “We’re not going to make excuses. Timmy’s out. Someone else will come in and we’ll go at it again.”