Cahill the hero as Socceroos see off Syria

  • Cahill the hero as Socceroos see off Syria

Cahill the hero as Socceroos see off Syria

Prior to the game at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney, signs were placed at the entrance indicating which flags fans were permitted to display at the ground for the Russian Federation 2018 play-off second leg, which Australia won 2-1 to advance 3-2 on aggregate.

Cahill's record 49th and 50th goals for Australia - including an extra-time victor at ANZ Stadium - earned the Socceroos a heartstopping 2-1 victory over Syria in the second leg of their play-off.

The Brighton goalkeeper started in the second leg of the Asian World Cup play off against a dogged Syria side who took the lead on aggregate when Omar Al-Somah lashed his shot into the roof of the net.

The advantage turned Australia's way on 94 minutes when Mahmoud Al Maowas crudely brought down Robbie Kruse on the left touchline, and was shown a second yellow card.

Tim Cahill rescued Australia from the brink of World Cup elimination and in the process destroyed Syria's dream of qualifying for next summer's tournament in Russian Federation.

QPR midfielder Luongo was an unused substitute at the ANZ Stadium.

"The victory vaulted the Socceroos into a final intercontinental play-off next month against the fourth-placed CONCACAF finisher, likely Panama or Honduras".

Last week's first leg with Syria finished 1-1 in Malaysia.

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.

"I don't know why we have to make it so hard - it shouldn't be that difficult for us", Australia coach Ange Postecoglou said.

But with Australia increasingly dominant, the Syrian resistance was resolute and hope was never lost.

But it was nearly inevitable that the match wasn't going to make it to the penalty shoot-out and similarly inevitable it would take Cahill to get the Aussies over the line in the second half of extra time.

Australia only needed a draw to qualify.

The minnows - bidding to reach their first World Cup - hit the post in the dying seconds as they nearly snatched an unlikely away-goals victory.

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.

There would be further drama as Syria hit the post in the 121st minute with a free-kick but Australia managed to hold on to book their place in the tournament in Russian Federation.