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Posted On : 10 Oct, 2017  Source : IANS  Place : Sydney 
Australia dash Syria's hopes of 2018 World Cup qualification
The inspiring story of war-ravaged Syria's 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign came to an end on Tuesday, with it going down in the Asian playoff to Australia 1-2 at the ANZ Stadium here.

After an even first leg in Malaysia that ended 1-1, it was an action packed opening 15 minutes with Syrian star striker Omar Alsoma scoring just six minutes in when he blasted a spectacular left foot strike past Aussie goalkeeper Matt Ryan, reports Xinhua news agency.

But it didn't take the 42,000 stunned fans long to celebrate, shortly after veteran Tim Cahill scored a header in the 13th minute from a perfectly placed cross from forward Matthew Leckie.

As the first half continued both sides had their chances, but with the introduction of Aaron Mooy to the central midfield in the 10th minute, after being left out of the starting line up, the Aussies immediately began to dominate possession and control the game.

Embattled manager Ange Postecoglou explained to Xinhua after the match, that he made the tactical decision to bench Mooy because "we wanted to be a little bit more aggressive in attack".

"That's the beauty of having depth in the squad, we have a number of options," he said.

Although the Socceroos went desperately close to sealing victory in the second half, some incredible saves by Syrian goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma kept the underdogs in the match.

But a second yellow card to midfielder Mahmoud Almawas in the 95th minute made the challenge even greater for the Syrians.

As a result the visitors weren't able to hold out much longer and in the 109th minute, a second Tim Cahill header ensured the win for the home side.

Australia will now face a yet to be determined opponent from North or central America in November, to decide who gets the final place in next year's World Cup competition.
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