SYDNEY – Australia defeated Syria 2-1 on Tuesday in a second-leg playoff that put an end to the war-torn Arab country’s fairytale dream of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia.
Australia is scheduled to play an Intercontinental playoff against the fourth-placed team in the CONCACAF Zone in November for a spot in Russia.
“The playoff is going to be a different kind of match to those we’ve faced so far in Asia. We’ll need to be ready for that,” Australian midfielder Mark Milligan said after the win.
Syria took an early lead thanks to a goal from Omar al-Soma in the sixth minute, providing Syrian fans a spark of hope.
Because of the brutal Syrian Civil War, Syria’s national team has been playing its home matches in Malaysia.
Tim Cahill, however, drew level seven minutes later, with no further changes on the score during the regulation time, so the match extended to an extra-time – as the first leg ended 1-1.
The 31-year-old Cahill found the back of the net one more time in the 109th minute, scoring his 50th international goal, which proved the decider.
Panama holds the fourth spot in CONCACAF’s table with 10 points ahead of Honduras which has the same points, with one more match to go.