TIM Cahill sent a message to Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou with a stunning header to send Melbourne City on the way to a 4-0 win over the Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park on Saturday night and put a severe dent in the visitor’s finals hopes.
The veteran has become an impact player for the national team, but he gave a reminder of his power ahead of the World Cup qualifier against Iraq in Tehran on Thursday.
Recalled to the City starting side, Cahill climbed above Johnny Koutroumbis at the back post and crunched a header into the left corner to put City ahead after 10 minutes.
Replacement Nick Fitzgerald doubled the margin in the 65th minute. Bruno Fornaroli added another from from the penalty spot ten minutes later after Daniel Mullen had clipped the heels of Bruce Kamau in the box.
The Uruguayan then iced the win with eight minutes remaining.
Jack Duncan denied the striker a hat-trick with a brilliant save in injury time.
The Jets fought hard but, as they have for the past month, lacked a cutting edge when the game was on the line.
The loss leaves the Jets stranded in eighth place on 22 points. If Wanderers (25 points) beat Wellington (23 points) on Sunday night, they will be six points outside the top six with four rounds remaining.
The Jets, who have one win in the past eight games, are away to Wellington next, meet Wanderers at home, before road trips to Central Coast and Sydney.
Assistant Clayton Zane took the reins for Mark Jones, who watched from a box in the stands after being suspended for a game following an exchange with the fourth official in the 3-1 loss to Brisbane Roar last round.
As expected, skipper Nigel Boogaard returned in the heart of defence and Koutroumbis shifted to left back to cover for a suspended Jason Hoffman. In the other change, Ben Kantarovski was preferred over Mateo Poljak at the base of midfield.
City have been vulnerable in transition and the Jets made no secret of their intent to hit them on the counter attack. The tactic nearly struck gold in fifth minute. Ben Kantarovski won possession near half way and released Andrew Nabbout. The winger burst in to the penalty box, but his shot over Thomas Sorensen screwed past the outside of the right post.
But it was the home side who went ahead through that man Cahill.
Nicolas Colazo played the ball back to Josh Rose on the left flank and the former Mariner delivered a crisp cross to the back post. Cahill did the rest, climbing above Koutroumbis and powering a header into the left corner.
It was like a training run at times for City in the first half. They moved the ball with ease, playing one touch football and pulling the Jets out of shape.
Boogaard’s frustration came to the fore in the 26th minute when he was booked for challenge on Fornalroli.
From the ensuing freekick the Uruguayan had a shot whiz past the right post.
The visitors created half chances but lacked a final product. Aleksandr Kokko couldn’t control a ball over the top from Andrew Hoole and Boogaard’s touch let him down in the six yard box.
The Jets continued to threaten on the break and at half-time they were still in it.
City had 67% of the ball but only led the shot count 6-5.
Zane introduced the more mobile Morten Nordstrand for Kokko and the Dane had a chance with his first involvement but couldn’t control a piercing through ball from Kantarovski.
The Jets continued to push and probe but couldn’t find the knockout punch.
Hoole had a corner glance off the head of Nabbout and flash across the goal mouth without a touch.
It was that sort of night.
The killer blow arrived in the 65th minute. Anthony Caceres dinked a pass over the top for Fitzgerald who beat Duncan with a toe poke into the left corner.