Cahill dou­ble takes Aus­tralia to In­ter-Con­ti­nen­tal Play-off

Tehran Times - - SPORTS -

Aus­tralia will be Asia’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive in the FIFA World Cup Rus­sia 2018 In­ter-Con­ti­nen­tal Play-off after Tim Cahill scored an ex­tra-time win­ner in a 2-1 vic­tory over Syria at Sta­dium Aus­tralia on Tues­day that saw the Soc­ceroos through with 3-2 on ag­gre­gate.

Omar Al Soma (pic­tured be­low) opened the scor­ing in the early stages to stun the home crowd be­fore Cahill headed home his first of the night in­side the quar­ter hour mark.

And, de­spite no fur­ther goals in reg­u­la­tion time, it was the vet­eran who had the fi­nal say after he nod­ded his 50th in­ter­na­tional goal past Ibrahim Alma in ex­tra-time to con­firm Aus­tralia’s meet­ing with the fourthranked team from CONCACAF in Novem­ber.

The tie had been tightly poised ahead of kick-off fol­low­ing the 1-1 draw in Me­laka on Thurs­day, but Syria needed just six min­utes to can­cel out Aus­tralia’s away goal ad­van­tage.

Tamer Haj Mo­hamad surged onto a loose pass and up the cen­tre of the field, found Al Soma, who had bi­sected the Soc­ceroos’ back three with his run, and the Al Ahli striker fired home con­fi­dently past Mat Ryan.

The hosts did not need long to re­store par­ity, though, as on the 13th minute To­mas Rogic found Mathew Leckie down the right and the winger bent in a su­perb cross that Cahill stooped to head across Alma into the net for his 49th strike in Aus­tralian colours.

Aus­tralia would go on to en­joy the lion’s share of pos­ses­sion, but Alma and his back­line held out to see the teams go in level at half­time.

After the restart, there were few clear-cut op­por­tu­ni­ties, although Leckie did see a header go nar­rowly wide and, with just over 20 min­utes re­main­ing, Rogic then drew a su­perb save from Alma after Leckie’s cut-back but that was the clos­est ei­ther side went be­fore the full­time whis­tle and the ad­di­tional 30 min­utes.

Syria suf­fered a blow early into ex­tra-time after they went down to 10 men after Mah­moud Al Mawas re­ceived his sec­ond yel­low card for a foul on Rob­bie Kruse.

Sub­sti­tute Nikita Rukavyt­sya had a golden op­por­tu­nity at the end of the first half of ex­tra-time when the ball reached him un­marked in the Syr­ian area, but his vol­ley was ham­mered straight at Alma.

In the sec­ond half of ex­tra-time, Aaron Mooy found Kruse with a de­light­ful pass and his cross was headed home by Cahill to com­plete his brace.

Omar Al Soma – the last minute hero against Is­lamic Repub­lic of Iran – then went close when he fired a spec­tac­u­lar late free-kick against the up­right – but it is Syria’s 2018 World Cup dream that ends, while Aus­tralia’s en­dures.

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