A 1-1 draw in the first leg in Melaka last Thursday meant that the World Cup play-off decider between Australia and Syria was poised on a knife-edge going into the second.
After battling so hard to get this far, Syria’s dreams were eventually ended by a vintage captain’s innings from Tim Cahill, who scored twice in a match that ended up going the full distance in Sydney.
Now aged 37, spring-heeled Timmy defied his creaking bones to play all 120 minutes of the epic tussle, scoring his 49th and 50th international goals in the process as the Socceroos eventually mustered a 2-1 victory.
After falling a goal behind to an early strike from Omar Al Soma, up popped Old Man Cahill to restore parity roughly five minutes later, nodding home from close range by capitalising on some shoddy marking (or complete lack thereof) from the Syrian centre-backs…
With the match still locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes, half-an-hour of extra time was summoned forth from the football gods and, despite facing a late onslaught of pressure, it was the Aussies who eventually emerged victorious.
Cahill, formerly of Everton and currently of Melbourne City, rose to strike again in the 109th minute, getting up above his man to thrust yet another header past Ibrahim Alma in the Syrian goal…
And by golly, that’s how it ended.
Oh, and we also got treated to this insane bit of technical footwork from Milos Degenek…
Highlight of Australia vs Syria… pic.twitter.com/WHDcMdfQkH
— Si Lloyd (@SmnLlyd5) October 10, 2017
Australia will now go on to face a second play-off in November against the team that finish fourth in the Central America (CONCACAF) pool.
With one fixture left to fulfil, that’ll either be Panama, Honduras or the United States.