Wed, Oct 11, 4:41pm by Head Editor
Australia’s quest to qualify for a fourth consecutive World Cup is still alive, after defeating Syria 2-1 in Sydney on Tuesday night.
Just as he’s done on many occasions over his 103 game International career, Australia’s greatest ever goalscorer Tim Cahill was the hero, netting twice, to ensure his country progressed to the next stage of Qualifying.
As is normally the case with the men in green and gold, it was done the hard way, with Ange Postecoglou’s men went a goal down after just eight minutes of play. A Mark Milligan mistake at the back gave the in-form Omar Al Soma the space he needed to beat Australia’s number one Mat Ryan.
The visitors were in front for just seven minutes before the Melbourne City talisman scored his 49th international goal, which settled some of the nerves inside the stadium.
Despite dominating most the play, the hosts couldn’t find a winner, so the tie went to extra-time. The contest shifted further in favour of the Aussies when Al Mawas was sent off after picking up his second yellow card for a reckless tackle on Robbie Kruse.
Kruse was also involved in the play that led to Cahill’s 50th goal for his nation, and one of the most important of his career, in the 108th minute. The legend of the sport in this country did what he does best, in heading home a brilliant goal past Syrian keeper Ibrahim Alma.
There was one last heart-stopping moment for the crowd of over 42,000, when Al Soma struck the upright in the final minute of extra-time –which would have sent Syria to their first World Cup – with a well-taken free kick from 25 metres out, but the hosts hung on, against a gallant Syrian outfit.
The next stage comes up on November six and 14 in a home and away leg against the fourth-ranked nation from CONCACAF, Honduras. Australia are a $3.25 outsider for the first leg, which is set to be held in one of the world’s most dangerous cities, San Pedro Sula.
Importantly, the second leg will be on home soil, with Sydney’s ANZ Stadium confirmed as the venue. The Socceroos are $1.77 to make the World Cup with a win over the two legs.
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