Cahill backs Aussies to shrug off Ecuador shock
Australia's Tim Cahill (L) vies with Ecuador's Jorge Guagua (R) during the international friendly football match between Ecuador and Australia at The Den in London on March 5, 2014 - by Ian Kington
The Socceroos appeared to be cruising to friendly victory in London on Wednesday thanks to two goals from Cahill plus a penalty from captain Mile Jedinak.
But a red card for substitute goalkeeper Mitch Langerak shortly after Fidel Martinez had made it 3-1 signalled a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the South Americans, who have also qualified for Brazil.
Segundo Castillo converted the penalty Langerak had conceded and Enner Valencia netted an equaliser before Edison Mendez, who had only just come on, sank the 10 men in stoppage time.
"In the first half we played some of the greatest football I've ever seen from the Socceroos -- and I've been around for a long time," said Cahill, who was also convinced he should have been awarded more than the one penalty that was converted by Jedinak.
"We learned a lot from it. We probably could have kept the ball better in the second half and a few errors turned into goals but if it's 11 v 11 then we're not losing that game."
Cahill's double took him in front of Damian Mori's record tally of 29 international goals and the 34-year-old admitted it had been a proud moment.
"It's a dream come true," the former Millwall and Everton midfielder said.
"Just to play for your country is one thing but to break this record is something else. It was a real proud moment for me."
Australia have Spain, the Netherlands and Chile in their group and coach Ange Postecoglou knows a young squad will have to cope better with the pressure in Brazil than they did in this game.
"We will analyse it in the cold light of day," he said.
"We learned some good lessons in terms of what we can do and what we can't and what we need to improve on but overall we exposed some young footballers to exactly the type of football they are going to be facing beyond today.
"I have huge belief in the direction we are heading and the players we have. There are going to be some bumps along the way but that's part of the nature of what we are doing."
Ecuador's group includes Switzerland, France and Honduras and coach Reinaldo Rueda was delighted with the way his players responded to falling so far behind.
"Australia are a very good team and I am pleased with the way we did not give up. Australia have a very tough group and I do not know how they will get on."
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