Late penalty controversy levels Syria, Australia after one leg (video)

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A potentially crucial away goal from Robbie Kruse has the Socceroos of Australia 90 minutes away from an interconfederation playoff date with CONCACAF in World Cup qualifying following a 1-1 draw with Syria in Malaysia.

Kruse (VfL Bochum) redirected a ball from Hertha Berlin’s Mathew Leckie in the first half of Thursday’s AFC qualifying playoff against Syria in Malaysia.

But a controversial penalty awarded to and scored by Omar Al Soma following a 50-50 challenge won by Mathew Leckie allowed Syria a point.

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It wasn’t a clear-cut penalty, but the late drama was fitting of Syria’s qualifying run.

Al Soma nearly supplied a late equalizer, but the ball turned off goalkeeper Mathew Ryan (Brighton and Hove Albion) and hit the post before returning to the backstop.

Syria goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma made several big saves, including a stop on Trent Sainsbury near the final whistle.

Australia finished third in AFC’s Group B, while Syria was third in Group A.

The second leg kicks off at 5 a.m. ET Tuesday in Australia.