REPORT: Cahill scores twice as Caltex Socceroos beat Syria in epic
The Caltex Socceroos' World Cup qualification quest continues after they defeated a brave Syria 2-1 in extra time of their second leg Asian Qualifier Playoff on Tuesday night in Sydney.
After drawing their first leg match in Malaysia 1-1 Australia ensured they'd progress 3-2 on aggregate and now must wait and see who they face in their final qualification hurdle in November, when they'll face the fourth-placed nation from the CONCACAF region in an inter-continental playoff.
STORY OF THE GAME
- Australia began with Aaron Mooy on the bench, Tom Rogic in behind Tim Cahill who played in the centre forward role.
- Syria stunned the Aussies with a classic counter attack goal in the opening five minutes before Australia hit back within minutes.
- Mooy came on for the injured Brad Smith inside the first 10 minutes
- The sides went to the break 1-1.
- Syria brought on the mesmeric playmaker Firas Mohamad Al Khatib on the hour mark, and he immediately had an impact but it was the Aussies who finished strongest in the final 20 minutes as Syria visibly fatigued.
- Tom Rogic had three good chances for Australia but the Celtic star couldn't quite find his range.
- The tired visitors held on to push the game into extra time after regulation time ended 1-1.
- Sub Nikita Rukavytsya had a golden chance to win the game in extra time first half but his close range effort was denied by keeper Ibrahim Almeh.
- Syria went down to 10 men after Mahmoud Al Maowas was red-carded as Syria tried to slow proceedings in an effort to hold out till the lottery of the shootout.
- But with 10 minutes to go in extra time, Cahill scored his second to head home in trademark fashion.
- But Syria could've gone through had Al Soma's power free kick hit the base of the post two mins from time.
Omar Al Soma, Syria 5’: 0-1
Syria made Australia pay for a cheap turnover in the centre of the park, driving forward drawing Sainsbury to the ball before releasing Al Soma and he stuck the ball high and past Ryan. Cue mayhem from the Syrian fans.
Tim Cahill, Australia 12’: 1-1
Leckie broke free down the Syrian left and his superb early cross found the head of Cahill in between the two central defenders and he did what he does. Score with his head.
Tim Cahill, Australia 109’: 2-1
Mooy with the clever ball to release Kruse down the right and his perfect cross found a leaping Cahill to power home for goal number 50 for Australia.