Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Research | By Derrick Holloway

Tim Cahill-led Australia sees off fearless Syria

Tim Cahill-led Australia sees off fearless Syria

Omar Al Soma had put Syria ahead at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney, giving them a 2-1 aggregate lead, only for Cahill to strike twice to keep the Socceroos on course for next year's tournament in Russian Federation with a final play-off to come against Panama or Honduras.

Ange Postecoglou's men endured a horrific start after the in-form Omar Al Soma burst behind the hosts' defence to open the scoring, before a pair of goals from Tim Cahill in the 13th and 109th minute helped the Asian Champions claim a 3-2 win on aggregate.

After last week's 1-1 draw in Malaysia, Australia won 3-2 on aggregate to reach a final play-off against the fourth-placed team from the CONCACAF federation, now Panama.

Sensing their opportunity to exploit a tiring Syria (due to their internal conflict, Syria's "home" fixture had taken place in Malaysia - it showed here), up stepped Australia's top-goalscorer one again.

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With AP Photos.War-torn Syria's hopes of qualifying for the World Cup have ended in a 2-1 extra-time loss to Australia.

But Hertha Berlin winger Mathew Leckie, 26, engineered parity for the hosts when he provided the ideal cross for former Everton midfielder Cahill's first on 13 minutes.

But both sides struggled to create chances of genuine quality in the second half, as the tense contest petered out to a draw in regulation minutes, sending the decider to extra time. Extra time was inevitable. With an extra man, Australia were able to find the space and time to pick out Cahill for yet another victor, this time played in by Kruse in the 109th minute.

Syria continued to hang on - their task was made more hard by the dismissal of Mahmoud Al Mawas for a second yellow card - and Alma brilliantly tipped over Nikita Rukavytsya's near-post volley at the end of the first period.

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"Timmy is Timmy, that's why he's a great Australian sportsman". "We have to take it to the next level now as players".

Australia, ranked 50th, have played the last three World Cups, reaching the last 16 in 2006. "I'm proud of everything we have done together".

However, the United States could yet finish fourth should they lose and one of Panama and Honduras win against Costa Rica and Mexico, respectively.

Firas al-Khatib, the current team captain, had previously boycotted the national team for five years in support of the uprising after government forces had bombed his home city of Homs.

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