CUIABA, Brazil (AP) — If shell-shocked Spain coach Vicente del Bosque is looking for some insights into how to beat Chile next week and preserve his team's status in the World Cup, he could do a lot worse than get on the phone to Tim Cahill.
The Australia forward may have ended up on the losing side in Friday's 3-1 defeat to Chile in Cuiaba, but he delivered a performance that will be encouraging not just to the Socceroos but also to Spain fans desperate for some solace after the 5-1 thrashing by the Netherlands elsewhere in Group B.
Cahill exposed the chief weakness of the Chileans — a suspect central defense — by scoring one goal and almost adding two or three more in a powerful display of aerial domination.
Del Bosque will surely have taken note.
"Tim was outstanding," Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said. "Particularly in the air, he is still world class. There is no one in the tournament who would like to be one on one with him.
"They only way they could stop him in the end was to hold on to his shirt."
That type of underhand tactic was a huge source of frustration to Cahill, who found little consolation in scoring a goal in a third straight World Cup and extending his record all-time goal tally for the Socceroos to 33.
The New York Red Bulls star told reporters about one exchange he had with Chile's left back, Eugenio Mena, during the match.
"There was an incident where the left back elbowed me and kicked out at me when I was trying to run past him for a cross, and I've got the yellow card," Cahill said. "I called him a cheat and he said, 'Yeah, I'm a cheat, so what?'"
Cahill was also seen squaring up to Gary Medel, the Chile center back he outjumped to score Australia's only goal at Arena Pantanal, and engage in what appeared a heated conversation with Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal as they left the pitch at the end of the first half.
"I said to Vidal, 'This is no good, this needs to be out of the game,'" said Cahill, who added that Chile resorted to that kind of gamesmanship as Australia piled on the pressure in the second half when 2-1 behind.