Australian veteran striker Tim Cahill has kept Australia’s hopes of a World Cup place alive with an extra time goal against Syria to give the Socceroos a 2-1 win in the do-or-die qualifying match.
The header from a lobbed cross by Robbie Kruse brought up the 37-year-old’s 50th goal for Australia, after scoring the equaliser via another header in the match’s 11th minute off a Mathew Leckie cross.
Here’s the moment Cahill won it for Australia.
— Caltex Socceroos (@Socceroos) October 10, 2017
The Socceroos will know later today whether they face Panama, Honduras or the United States in a November play-off to qualify for the World Cup in Russia next year.
The home side gave 42,136 fans in Sydney plenty of tense moments until the end as Australia pushes to make its fourth consecutive World Cup, ending strife-torn Syria’s fairytale run in the final minutes.
The visitors were down to 10 men in the second half of extra time after Mahmoud Al Maowas was given his second yellow card for a tackle on Kruse as the scores were level at 1-all. A draw would have seen the Arab nation through to the next round of qualifiers, and behind 2-1 with two minutes left on the clock, Syria scored a free kick just outside the penalty box.
Omar Al Soma, who gave Syria the early lead with a counter-attacking goal in the game’s 5th minute stepped up to take the final shot. He beat keeper Mat Ryan, but Al Soma’s shot hit the base of the post and the Socceroos survived.
Both sides had opportunities in the first half, with Tom Rogic having three decent chances for the Socceroos, but unable to convert, before a dour second half. Substitute forward Nikita Rukavytsya also had opportunities to break the deadlock in extra time, but also missed out as he peppered Syrian keeper Hamid Mido with the ball.
In a rare feat of stamina, Cahill played all 120 minutes of a match against a Syrian side that began to fatigue as the match moved into extra time.
Socceroos coach Ange Postecoglou called the veteran a “freak” after the game for his ability to get the national side home when it’s needed.
Cahill compared his job to like waiting for a bus.
“I knew I was going to score, I didn’t touch the ball much but in the end I delivered,” he said.
“That’s what I’ve done my whole life and I’ll continue to do it.”
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