Sports

Australia 2-1 Syria (AET, agg 3-2): Cahill nets victor

Australia 2-1 Syria (AET, agg 3-2): Cahill nets victor

Australia's 2-1 win puts them through from the Asian play-off 3-2 on aggregate and they will next face a team from the North and Central America region, yet to be decided, over two legs in November for a place at Russian Federation 2018.

The 3-2 aggregate victory sends the Socceroos into an intercontinental playoff in November against the fourth-placed team in North and Central America and Caribbean (CONCACAF) qualifying with a World Cup spot on the line.

Syria, who were hoping to qualify for their first-ever World Cup finals, went ahead in the game in the sixth minute when Omar Al Somah gave the civil war-torn nation an early lead.

As extra time begun Syria were reduced to 10 men after a second yellow card was given to Mahmoud Al Maowas.

A team from a war-ravaged country, organised on a shoe-string budget, who have played all their fixtures outside their homeland, and ranked 75 in the world, was on the verge of qualifying for the Russian Federation 2018 World Cup finals.

It comes as Australia looked set to start Tuesday night's high-stakes World Cup play-off without Aaron Mooy after the star midfielder was dropped to the bench.

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It took another incisive run from Cahill, powering home his 50th global goal from Robbie Kruse's cross to finally give Australia the edge, as he has so often has in an worldwide career spanning 103 games.

The only logical explanation for Mooy's omission could be the switch to a single holding midfielder in the starting XI, and Mark Milligan was given the nod in this role due to his defensive strengths.

The game will be played at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney.

Who else but Cahill could come up with such heroics?

The introduction of Syrian striker Firas Al-Khatib on the hour threatened to swing the momentum, but Ange Postecoglou's men maintained their dominance while squandering a series of scoring opportunities. Socceroos will face one of the team in the United States, Panama or Honduras in the final playoffs. "I'm proud of everything we have done together".

As some of the teams' biggest fans made their way to the match, they spoke to SBS about how they were feeling about the game.


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