Eleven minutes from penalties, with scores deadlocked at 1-1 (2-2 on aggregate), Cahill rose to head home Robbie Kruse’s header, leaving Australia 180 minutes away from a Russia 2018 berth.
Postecoglou gambled by leaving the veteran on for the entire 120 minutes against the brave Syrians, withdrawing James Troisi and Tom Rogic instead after Brad Smith (hip flexor) lasted eight minutes.
ANALYSIS: Fate didn’t want Mooy benched
PLAYER RATINGS: Cahill sets the bar
Is it harsh to say Cahill kept Postecoglou in a job? Picture: Brett CostelloSource:News Corp Australia
“He’s just a freak. I’d hazard to think when the last time he played 90 minutes was, let alone 120,’’ Postecoglou said.
“He’s just got real belief in himself, a real unique and extraordinary individual and he led from the front.
“I think Timmy would’ve belted me if I took him off. We haven’t flogged him, we’ve used him when we needed to.
“Why do we have to make it so hard? It shouldn’t be that difficult for us.
“I’m immensely proud of the payers and staff who worked awfully hard to ensure we were ready for 120 minutes of football.
“We left it late and had to work hard, but we deserved to get through and players showed tremendous character.
“I have belief in the players and what we do. I see overall conviction in the way we do things and we wear teams down.”
Tim Cahill: ‘I knew I was gonna score’3:17
Socceroos: Socceroos captain Tim Cahill speaks after scoring both goals in a 2-1 win over Syria.
- October 10th 2017
- 4 hours ago
- /display/newscorpaustralia.com/Web/NewsNetwork/Sport news and galleries/Football/
Postecoglou stood by his controversial decision to bench Aaron Mooy, with the Huddersfield Town midfielder starring when he came on after just 11 minutes.
“It was just a selection decision. We wanted to be a bit more aggressive in attack and Aaron was the one who missed out,’’ he said.
“It’s not the first time he’s missed out and it won’t be the last time. We’ve done it before. Smithy unfortunately got injured and we had to make a change but that’s the beauty of having depth in the squad you can throw someone like Aaron on.
Starting Mooy in the bench had many scratching their heads. Picture: Brett CostelloSource:News Corp Australia
“I thought he made a difference, I thought Tomi Juric made a difference when he came on, I thought Nikitia Rukavytsya grew into the game. That was going to be important tonight, we knew it could go to 120 minutes.
“It was a like for like change, (Robbie) Krusey went out left where he’s played for us before and Aaron went into the number 10. It was a game where we wanted to be aggressive, and didn’t want to fill those wide positions with defensive players.”