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Kuala Lumpur: Asian Football Confederation (AFC) President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa has congratulated Australia for inching closer towards Russia 2018 after narrowly defeating Syria 3-2 on aggregate over two legs in the FIFA World Cup 2018 Asian Qualifiers Continental Play-off to secure their place in the Asian-CONCACAF Zone play-off.

“I would like to offer my congratulations to Australia for showing immense quality over the two legs to overcome a spirited Syrian side. On behalf of the Asian football family, I wish Australia the very best of luck and I am confident they will do Asia proud in the Inter-Continental Play-off.”

Syria and Australia delivered a thrilling first leg last Thursday in their Continental Play-off on the Road to Russia with the Socceroos getting the better of the first hour and the Qasioun Eagles coming back strongly in the final 30 minutes as the game finished 1-1.

In the second-leg, however, the Australians showed their quality to secure a hard-fought victory.

Syria snatched the lead inside six minutes thanks to a composed finish by Omar Al Soma before the evergreen Tim Cahill pulled Australia level seven minutes later with a fine header from Matthew Leckie’s inch-perfect cross.

Despite creating numerous chances in the second-half, both sides were unable to find the decisive winner in the 90 minutes.

Cahill then produced another trademark header in the fourth minute of the second-half of extra-time to hand the Australians a famous victory at the Stadium Australia in Sydney.

Australia will now play the fourth-placed team in the CONCACAF final qualifying group, which sees Honduras, Panama and the United States of America in the running as possible opponents, over two legs in November.

For more details on the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 Asian Qualifiers – Final and Play-off Rounds, please click here.

Photo: Lagardère Sports