Published: Wed, October 11, 2017
Sports | By Mabel Barber

Australia 2-1 Syria

Australia 2-1 Syria

Australia booked their place in an intercontinental World Cup play-off next month as Tim Cahill inspired them to a 2-1 extra-time win over Syria in Sydney on Tuesday.

Australia will next month face the fourth-placed team from the Concacaf section - now Panama - across two legs for a place at the World Cup.

Tim Cahill headed in a goal, his second, in extra time to put Australia past Syria, 2-1, in the second leg of their fifth-place AFC playoff.

In an epic display of sportsmanship, Syria has failed to qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russian Federation.

"It doesn't matter who we play next".

Syria take a heavily depleted squad to Australia for the second leg of the Asian qualifying play-off on Tuesday.

Cahill, 37, the former New York Red Bulls player who also starred at Everton and eventually landed in China, is Australia's career-leading goal-scorer (50) and is now playing for Melbourne City in the country's A-League.

Syria's fairytale was nearly revived when Al Somah crashed a last-minute free-kick against the post but it wasn't to be and Australia progressed to the play-offs.

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"In the last half-hour the two best chances Syria created were the penalty and they hit the post after the ball was probably a metre over the line", he said.

"I'm proud of everything we have done together and how we can help kids watching to follow their dreams".

Australia only needed a draw to qualify. The players have had to fight all the way through qualifying and they believe in themselves.

Unsurprisingly Australia immediately looked more settled, as the Huddersfield talisman calmed the midfield and linked up with an eager Robbie Kruse on the left.

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.

An injury to left-back Brad Smith after just five minutes later rather fortuitously saw Mooy enter the fray perhaps earlier than anticipated, but at a goal down Postecoglou surely realised he had no choice but to introduce the Huddersfield midfielder.

Prior to the game, Syrian and Australian fans gathered outside the ground where supporters were photographed jovially mixing and some placed small Australian flags on a larger Syrian flag in an apparent show of support for the country.

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