United Arab Emirates 1-2 Australia
A late deflected goal from Ajdin Hrustic edged Australia to a 2-1 win over the United Arab Emirates in their Asia World Cup qualifier play-off at the Ahmad bin Ali Stadium in Qatar.
The Socceroos, looking to reach a fifth straight World Cup finals, had missed out on automatic qualification, finishing behind Saudi Arabia and Japan, while the UAE were third in Group A.
After goalkeeper Mat Ryan twice denied winger Harib Suhail Al Maazmi, Australia took the lead early in the second half through Jackson Irvine.
Brazilian-born forward Caio Canedo soon had the UAE level, but Eintracht Frankfurt midfielder Hrustic's deflected volley won it with six minutes left.
Australia will now go on to face Peru on Monday in the inter-confederation play-off to secure a trip back to Qatar in November.
There was plenty of support in Al-Rayyan for the UAE, looking to make it to the World Cup finals for only the second time after also reaching Italia '90.
The opening exchanges proved cagey as both teams could sense the importance of the occasion with few clear openings created.
Australia finally sparked into life shortly before the break when defender Kye Rowles, reported to be joining Scottish club Hearts from Central Coast Mariners, glanced a header from a free-kick across the face of goal.
UAE winger Al Maazmi was a threat down the left and got behind the Socceroos defence to fire in an angled drive which Ryan palmed away to keep the score goalless heading into half-time.
Real Sociedad stopper Ryan was called upon again early in the second half to save down low from another fierce effort from Al-Maazmi.
Australia broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute when Martin Boyle broke into the right side of the penalty area and crossed for Irvine to slot in at the near post.
The UAE, though, were back on level terms just four minutes later after a cross bounced off Irvine into the path of Canedo, who fired the ball into the roof of the net from six yards.
As the hour mark passed, Craig Goodwin crashed an effort over the crossbar from close range before Rowles’ header from a corner was saved by UAE goalkeeper Khaled Eisa.
Melbourne City striker Jamie Maclaren was sent on for Goodwin and almost made a breakthrough with 10 minutes left when his angled shot was scooped over the bar by Eisa.
Australia finally broke the UAE’s determined defence in the 87th minute when a corner was cut back to the edge of the penalty area and a fierce volley from Hrustic deflected off Ali Salmeen before beating Eisa.