Syria and Australia share the spoils
Robbie Kruse opened the scoring in first half
Omar Al Sama converted equaliser from the spot after being fouled
Both sides saw efforts hit the woodwork
Syria and Australia drew 1-1 in the first leg of the FIFA World Cup™ qualifying Asian Round 4 play-off in Malacca, Malaysia. A first-half effort from Robbie Kruse was cancelled out by Omar Al Soma's late penalty.
Mathew Leckie was the architect for the game's first goal, bursting down the right flank before cutting back and hitting a cross-shot at goal. Kruse tapped home from close range, his first goal for the Socceroos since January 2015.
The Aussies went close to doubling their advantage after the interval, with Tomi Juric pouncing on an error in the Syrian defence. The FC Luzern forward's first strike bounced back off the crossbar, with his follow-up rebounding back off the post.
Syria pushed and pushed for an equaliser, after that shaky start to the second half. Al Soma went close, seeing his header superbly tipped onto the woodwork by Maty Ryan after substitute Feras Al Khatib had fired in a cross.
The Syrians' efforts were not ultimately in vain. Al Soma was impeded by Leckie and stepped up to fire home the spot-kick with unerring conviction.
The late equaliser sets up a tantalising return leg on Tuesday in Sydney. The winner over the two legs will face the fourth-placed team from CONCACAF's hexagonal section.