A late deflected goal from Ajdin Hrustic secured a 2-1 win for Australia in an Asian playoff Tuesday over the United Arab Emirates and sets up an intercontinental showdown with Peru for a spot at the World Cup in Qatar.
The Australians are a win away from a fifth consecutive World Cup appearance after ending the UAE’s bid for a return to soccer’s marquee tournament for first time since 1990.
Jackson Irvine steered in Martin Boyle’s strong run and pinpoint pass from the right to open the scoring for Australia in the 53rd minute but the UAE hit back minutes later through Caio Canedo to level playoff.
Hrustic's left-footed volley deflected off a defender before beating the goalkeeper minutes before the final whistle.
The Socceroos have a six-day break before the playoff against Peru, which finished fifth in South American qualifying, for a place alongside France, Denmark and Tunisia in Group D at the World Cup starting in November.
The Australians took a similar path to qualify for the 2018 World Cup but, unlike last time when Australia beat Syria and then Honduras on a home-and-away basis in the continental and intercontinental playoffs, both playoffs this month are winner-takes-all and both played in Qatar.