Originally created 06/13/06

Flurry of goals lifts Socceroos



KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany - The wait for a World Cup goal - and a win - is over for Australia.

The goals came in a flurry in the Aussies' stunning rally for a 3-1 victory over Japan on Monday. Tim Cahill scored in the 84th minute and again five minutes later. John Aloisi added one in injury time.

"It was unbelievable to come away with a first World Cup win like that," Aloisi said. "It was 10 minutes of probably the most exciting soccer that Australia has ever seen."

Cahill, who came on in the 53rd minute, made an impressive showing for a player coming off a knee injury with limited playing time heading to the tournament.

"It's been one big massive procedure for me to get fit in such a short period of time," he said. "To do what we did today shows Australian spirit, and it's good to be up there with the rugby and cricket players."

And, for one day at least, up there with soccer's elite.

Monday's comeback added another nerve-jangling chapter to the Socceroos' World Cup story. In November, they upset Uruguay in a penalty-kick shootout in a playoff to qualify.

"We look to moments like these as kids dreaming of the situation," said Cahill.

The Aussies didn't appear capable of even tying the game after falling behind in the first half. But Cahill equalized when he picked up a loose ball off a throw-in and beat Japan goalkeeper Yoshikatsu Kawaguchi with a right-footed shot. Kawaguchi erred in coming out of his net.

ITALY 2, GHANA 0

In Hanover, Germany, Italy responded to the corruption scandal back home with some of the most exciting soccer of this World Cup.

Andrea Pirlo converted a set play to perfection for the Azzurri's first goal in the 40th minute, and Vincenzo Iaquinta finished off a win over Ghana in the 83rd.

Italy produced 13 shots on goal to Ghana's four and hit the crossbar and goalpost once each.

"It was the best soccer of the tournament so far," said FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who attended Monday's game.

The win may have been costly for Italy, however. Playmaker Francesco Totti exited after taking a hit on his surgically repaired left leg in the second half. His status for Saturday's game with the United States is uncertain.

TOGO: Togo's World Cup debut keeps getting stranger.

The tiny West African nation may again be without a coach, three days after Otto Pfister left the team hotel in a huff and hours after Togo's federation said he agreed to return.

Pfister was expected to arrive back at the team's hotel Monday evening, and the Togo federation said he would be on the bench today when the Sparrow Hawks face South Korea. But Pfister had not arrived from his home in Zurich, Switzerland, by 9 p.m. It was uncertain when he would show up, according to federation spokesman Messan Attolou.

CZECH REPUBLIC: Striker Jan Koller will miss at least one game with an injured thigh, and the sight of their teammate being carried off the field tempered the Czechs' mood after their 3-0 win over the United States on Monday.

Koller first thought he had torn a muscle and was out for the tournament, but a scan came back negative.