Cahill sends Socceroos into final World Cup play-off

Australia booked their place in an intercontinental World Cup play-off next month as Tim Cahill inspired them to a 2-1 extra-time win over Syria in Sydney on Tuesday.

Ange Postecoglou’s side, who were held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg, secured a 3-2 aggregate victory to end their opponents’ remarkable qualifying run.

Syria cancelled out Australia’s away goal when they took the lead through Omar Al Soma after only six minutes, but Cahill – handed a place in the starting line-up while Aaron Mooy was surprisingly on the bench – levelled matters with a fine header seven minutes later.

The Socceroos were the dominant force at ANZ Stadium but struggled to turn their possession into meaningful chances and were often thwarted by goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma.

Syria had a man sent off early in extra time, though, and were eventually undone when Cahill powered home Robbie Kruse’s cross for his 50th international goal.

They will face the fourth-place team from the CONCACAF standings, most likely Panama or Honduras, in a two-legged play-off in November, with the winner going on to the group stage of next year’s finals in Russia.