Caltex Socceroos and Syria all square after first leg in Melaka
Robbie Kruse's first half goal wasn't enough for the Caltex Socceroos who were held 1-1 by a fast-finishing Syria in their first leg World Cup playoff qualifier in Malaysia on Thursday night.
A fluid and well balanced Australian side looked in control for the most part with new faces Matt Jurman and the recalled Josh Risdon slotting in to the starting XI at the Hang Jebat stadium.
But a fast-finishing Syria found a way back in this contest after a soft penalty shout enabled them to equalise in the final few minutes.
They pressed relentlessly and had Australia on the ropes in the final few minutes but Mat Ryan and the Aussie rearguard held firm.
Now the two teams meet in Sydney next Tuesday night in the decisive second leg with the tie delicately balanced.
STORY OF THE GAME
- The first half was surprisingly open with Syria and Australia carving good chances before Kruse opened the scoring just before the break.
- Aaron Mooy bossed the game from midfield with his vision and passing for Australia.
- Tomi Juric hit the post twice in one play in the early minutes of the second half.
- Australia showed great desperation in the second half: Mat Leckie kept out a goal-bound shot and Milos Degenek likewise with resolute defensive work.
- Syria had their best moments in the latter stages of the second half and they won their penalty in the final 10 minutes.
- Both keepers Mat Ryan and Ibrahim Almeh made superb saves late in the game.
1-0 Australia: Robbie Kruse 40’
Mat Leckie broke clear down the right, cut back and shot low into the box and Kruse was in perfect position to angle the ball home.
1-1 Syria: Omar Al Soma 84'
Mat Leckie was deemed to have pushed Al Soma in the box when jumping for a high ball and the same player smashed home the equaliser.