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'Big games are won by critical moments'

Michael Lynch and Sebastian Hassett review Australia's heartbreaking loss to the Netherlands in Porto Alegre, Brazil.

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Socceroos star Tim Cahill endured the ultimate night of mixed emotions against the Netherlands on Thursday morning [AEST], scoring perhaps the goal of his career before earning a suspension for the next game against Spain.

“But you know, at home in my garden, I score like that every day. This is what it’s all about, this is what I keep telling the boys. I’m not going to miss a moment.” 

Cahill’s extraordinary first-half volley, which cancelled out Arjen Robben’s opener, gave the Socceroos hope of a huge upset and while Australia led briefly after Mile Jedinak’s penalty, they ultimately lost 3-2.

Arjen Robben of the Netherlands controls the ball on his way to scoring his team's first goal during the Group B match between Australia and Netherlands. Click for more photos

World Cup 2014: Australia v the Netherlands highlights

Arjen Robben of the Netherlands controls the ball on his way to scoring his team's first goal during the Group B match between Australia and Netherlands. Photo: Getty Images

The 34-year old was arguably Australia’s best player again, as he was in the first game against Chile, but his yellow card – earned for a challenge that ended the match of Dutch defender Bruno Martins Indi – means he will never play another World Cup match.

However, Cahill said “there is no sadness” about picking up the suspension.

“I play for today, not tomorrow. If I’m going to save myself from a yellow card, then I shouldn’t be here. I play for moments and in my lifetime I’ve got five of the best moments of my life and today was the fifth goal in my World Cup life,” he said. “When the ball was flying over [before the goal], normally people expect me to head that from 18 yards. But it just sat so beautifully, off the shoulder of the defender, and I struck it and it went in and that’s what football is all about, moments like these. What better place to do it than in the home of football in Brazil.

Tim Cahill reacts after arguably his greatest ever goal.

Tim Cahill reacts after arguably his greatest ever goal. Photo: Getty Images

“This is the end for me in the World Cup but, overall, I’m proud of these boys, every single one of them.”

The left-foot strike is already the leading contender for the goal of the tournament and will take some beating over the coming weeks.

“Listen, when you look at your idols like [Marco] van Basten and even [Robin] van Persie, they’re the sort of goals they scored,” Cahill said. “I remember when van Persie scored a goal like that at Everton after I’d scored to make it 1-1. You dream as a kid about these opportunities.

“But you know, at home in my garden, I score like that every day. This is what it’s all about, this is what I keep telling the boys. I’m not going to miss a moment.”

While they didn’t win, Cahill said his teammates’ bold showing had done enough to “earn the respect of the world today.”

“My emotions are very proud. What I’ve seen from [Australia] since the start of the tournament is being fearless and never taking a backwards step and regardless of going down 1-nil, I felt we had the game [in control] at the start,” he said. “When we believe in ourselves, you can create moments in the game today that can last forever. “I’m proud of this team and the kids. It’s probably one of the best Socceroos team performances I’ve ever been a part of.”

The New York Red Bulls forward was particularly pleased at how Australia balanced a physical approach with a balanced possession-based play, in keeping with coach Ange Postecoglou’s wishes.

“Regardless of being fearless or brave, you have to play football and we played today and I’m pretty sure they didn’t expect that,” he said. “But we wanted that feeling where they leave and say “We don’t want to play Australia again”.

“We’ll see what we can do against Spain, because we are playing the champions of the world. We’ll not take a backwards step.”

Cahill said Postecoglou deserved a lot of credit from the public for the way he had re-fashioned the side.“He’s played a massive part and the easiest way to put it is that we haven’t come here to be passengers. We haven’t come here to park the bus,” he said. “I’ve never seen Holland play the ball long that many times. A bit of pressure on the defence and the ball was dinked in every time to van Persie, which was unusual."

While his World Cup career comes to a close, Cahill is keen to keep going in the green and gold, at least until next year’s Asian Cup.

“Of course I want to be a part of the Asian Cup. I want to see what the plans are of the boss for the team and I’ll be fighting fit to be available, to keep my body in the best shape I can,” he said. “For now, the main thing is finishing this tournament and while I won’t play the next game, I want to be a big influence off the park.”