Cahill double ends Syria's World Cup dream as Aussies edge tense playoff

Arnold Nichols
October 11, 2017

Australia defeated Syria 2-1 in Sydney.

Australia proved a step too far for Syria, as they crashed out of their World Cup qualifying tie 3-2 on aggregate, losing 2-1 on Tuesday.

The West Asians took an early lead as Omar Al Soma scored his third goal in as many matches, before Tim Cahill equalised shortly after and Australia then went on to dominate proceedings against a resolute Syrian backline.

Syria coach Ayman al-Hakim was full of praise for his team, which finished with 10 men after Mahmoud Almawas was sent off in the fourth minute of extra time after picking up a second yellow card. "Five key players is a big loss for us but we trust the players we have".

Having made his global debut for Australia in 2004, a 37-year-old Tim Cahill scored his 49th and 50th goal for the Socceroos in today's World Cup playoff against Syria.

Those combinations helped put James Troisi into the box to feed Cahill, but his right-footed finish was blocked by a defender's thigh with the goal beckoning.

It took another incisive run from Cahill, powering home his 50th global goal from Robbie Kruse's cross to finally give Australia the edge, as he has so often has in an worldwide career spanning 103 games.

As penalties beckoned, Robbie Kruse sent over a cross from the byline and Cahill out-jumped his marker to power a header past the diving Ibrahim Alma.

The move was a huge gamble given the Huddersfield Town man was the standout in last week's opening-leg 1-1 draw.

When all team cohesion seems lost - as it did against Syria - individual displays like Cahill's are about all they have. The players have had to fight all the way through qualifying and they believe in themselves.

Initially, it looked bleak for Ange Postecoglou's side.

Hakeem said he had not decided yet whether to give an worldwide debut to Swedish-born defender Gabriel Somi in the match and expects another tough tussle with the Socceroos.

The United States, Panama and Honduras, the three teamns who could provide the opposition, play their final qualifiers later on Tuesday. With our respect for your national team and country.

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