The Socceroos have drawn 1-1 against Syria amid tough and cagey conditions in Malaysia on Thursday night. Australia will rue missed opportunities and a lacklustre second half despite notching a vital away goal heading into the second leg in Sydney.

In a first half devoid of many highlights it was Robbie Kruse who broke the shackles off of a tense and far from full Hang Jebat Stadium in the 40th minute.

Mathew Leckie latched on to the end of a Milos Degenek ball before cutting back from the byline and firing the ball across goal to the crashing Kruse, who sent a short spurt of relief through Ange Postecoglou and his side for a 1-0 lead.

The opening stanza of the second half started frantically with both Syria and Australia notching clear-cut opportunities on goal. Tomi Juric tested the Melaka paintwork on the left post in a goalmouth scramble that in all likelihood should’ve ended in the back of the net to double Australia’s buffer.

From that point on Syria held the majority of momentum, battering the Australian half with corner after corner in search of an equaliser. The introduction of Syrian talisman Firas Al Khatib injected intensity into the Syrian lineup almost immediately. The host’s most significant chance coming off the back of a dazzling Al Khatib run to the byline before crossing to Omar Al Soma, only to be denied by a point-blank Mat Ryan save onto the upright.

The tie was then turned on its head with a penalty awarded to Syria, Leckie judged to have committed a foul in a leaping contest which was in turn put away by the always dangerous frontman Omar Al Soma to level the scores on the night at 1-1.

Both sides now travel to Sydney for a do or die second leg on Tuesday night with their respective World Cup hopes hanging in the balance.

Syria 1 (AL SOMA Omar 85′ [P])
Australia 1 (KRUSE Robbie 40′)

Stadium: Hang Jebat Stadium, Melaka, Malaysia

Referee: Alireza FAGHANI (Iran)
Assistant Referees: Reza SOKHANDAN (Iran) & Mohammed Reza MANSOURI (Iran)
Fourth Official: Bijan HEIDARI (Iran)

Syria: 1. ALMA Ibrahim (GK), 2. AL MASRI Hadi, 3. AL AJJAN Moayad, 7. KHRIBIN Omar (MARDIKIAN Mardik 80′), 8. AL MAWAS Mahmoud (AL KHATIB Firas 75′), 9. AL SOMA Omar, 13. KALFA Youssef (ABDULJAFFAL Ouday 46′), 14. MOHAMED Tamer Haj, 18. MIDANI Zaher (C), 20. MOBAYED Khaled, 21. YOUSSEF Fahad
Substitutes: 4. AL BAOUR Jehad, 5. SOMI Gabriel, 6. JENIAT Amro, 10, AL KHATIB Firas, 11. ABDULJAFFAL Ouday, 12. ALHAMWIAH Esraa, 15. AL SHBBLI Alaa, 16. MIDO Hamid, 17. OMARI Osama, 19. MARDIKIAN Mardik, 22. ALYOUSSEF Mahmoud, 23. MADANIEH Ahmad

Australia: 1. RYAN Mathew (GK), 2. DEGENEK Milos, 5. MILLIGAN Mark (C), 6. JURMAN Matt, 7. LECKIE Mathew, 9. JURIC Tomi (ROGIC Tom 83′), 10. KRUSE Robbie (LUONGO Massimo 70′), 13. MOOY Aaron, 16. BEHICH Aziz, 19. RISDON Josh (RUKAVYTSYA Nikita 63′), 20. SAINSBURY Trent,
Substitutes: 3. SMITH Brad, 4. CAHILL Tim, 11. GOODWIN Craig, 12. LANGERAK Mitch (GK), 14. TROISI James, 15. AMINI Mustafa, 17. RUKAVYTSYA Nikita, 18. VUKOVIC Danny (GK), 21. LUONGO Massimo, 22. IRVINE Jackson, 23. ROGIC Tom, 8. WRIGHT Bailey (Suspended)

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Max joined The Football Sack for 2014 covering Sydney FC in the Hyundai A-League and Westfield W-League.