Kuala Lumpur, Oct 6 (IANS) A resilient Syria salvaged a 1-1 draw with Australia thanks to a late penalty in the first leg of the Asian play-off for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Syria host Australia in the Malaysian city of Malacca where it had performed strongly in the previous round of Asian qualifiers, reports Xinhua news agency.
Australia took the lead five minutes before the end of the first half when Mathew Leckie broke through the Syrian defence, helping Robbie Kruse to score for the Socceroos.
Australia failed to enlarge the lead when Tomi Juric’s two successive strikes were denied by woodwork.
Syria was awarded a penalty when the game was drawing to the end, and Omar Al Soma converted it to give Syria one point before the second leg on Tuesday in Australia.
Both Australia and Syria finished third in their respective group of the previous round of Asian qualifiers. The winner of the two-leg play-off sets to meet with the fourth-ranked side from CONCACAF in the Inter-Continental play-off for a ticket to Russia 2018.