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Nikita Rukavytsya of Australia and Firas Alkhatib of Syria contest the ball during the World Cup Asian play-off match
 
Syria’s unlikely 2018 World Cup dream has sadly collapsed after Australia progressed to the final qualifying round courtesy of Tim Cahill’s extra-time header.
 
Omar Al Somah gave the civil war-torn nation hope of reaching Russia when he gave them an early lead in Sydney.
 
But Cahill, 37, quickly equalised with the first of his two headed goals.
 
Syria took the tie to extra-time but were reduced to 10 men when Mahmoud Al Mawas was sent off before Cahill nodded in Robbie Kruse’s cross for the winner.
 
Australia will now play either Panama, Honduras or the USA for a place in the finals.
 
After Al Somah’s opener, Hertha Berlin winger Mathew Leckie, 26, helped restore parity for the hosts as he provided the perfect cross for former Everton midfielder Cahill’s first on 13 minutes.
 
Syria had to defend resolutely as the Socceroos took control thereafter, but even with a man down the visitors threatened when al-Somah’s free kick hit the post.
 

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  Nikita Rukavytsya of Australia and Firas Alkhatib of Syria contest the ball during the World Cup Asian play-off match   Syria's unlikely 2018 World Cup dream has sadly collapsed after Australia progressed to the final qualifying round courtesy of Tim Cahill's extra-time header.   Omar Al Somah gave the civil war-torn nation hope...