Australia have ended Syria’s dream of qualifying for their first FIFA World Cup. The Socceroos defeated the Syrians 2-1 in Sydney on Tuesday night to seal a place in the play-off rounds for a spot in Russia 2018.
The final matches in the CONCACAF group take place on Tuesday night, meaning the Socceroos will soon find out whether they are battling with the United States, Panama or Honduras for a place in Russia between November 6-14.
At Sydney’s Olympic Stadium, it was minnows Syria who started the better of the two sides, and they took an unlikely lead when Omar Al Soma fired the ball past Mathew Ryan in goal. Mark Milligan gave the ball away with a sloppy pass, and could only watch on as Tamer Mohamd threaded a wonderful through-ball for Al Soma to finish.
Order was restored just a few minutes later though, when Socceroos captain Cahill netted his first of the night with a trademark header. Syria, despite their underdog status, played well and enjoyed some chances of their own to net past Brighton’s Ryan in the Australia goal.
The match went on to extra time with the scores level at 1-1, but Syria were handed a blow just a few minutes later. Mahmoud Al Mawas, already on a yellow card, ploughed into a challenge on Robbie Kruse, and referee Ravshan Irmatov showed no hesitation to issue a second yellow card.
With 109 minutes on the clock – and Syria just 11 minutes away from a penalty shootout – Cahill grabbed his second of the night.