Australia booked their place in an intercontinental World Cup play-off next month as Tim Cahill inspired them to a 2-1 extra-time win over Syria in Sydney on Tuesday.
Ange Postecoglou's side, who were held to a 1-1 draw in the first leg, secured a 3-2 aggregate victory to end their opponents' remarkable qualifying run.
Syria cancelled out Australia's away goal when they took the lead through Omar Al Soma after only six minutes, but Cahill – handed a place in the starting line-up while Aaron Mooy was surprisingly on the bench – levelled matters with a fine header seven minutes later.
The Socceroos were the dominant force at ANZ Stadium but struggled to turn their possession into meaningful chances and were often thwarted by goalkeeper Ibrahim Alma.
Syria had a man sent off early in extra time, though, and were eventually undone when Cahill powered home Robbie Kruse's cross for his 50th international goal.
They will face the fourth-place team from the CONCACAF standings, most likely Panama or Honduras, in a two-legged play-off in November, with the winner going on to the group stage of next year's finals in Russia.
Syria threatened with an early counter-attack and it was a warning Australia failed to heed, as they gifted the visitors the lead in only the sixth minute.
Poor play in midfield allowed Tamer Haj Mohamad to surge towards the penalty area and play in Al Soma, who fired high beyond Mathew Ryan and into the net.
Postecoglou's concerns threatened to deepen when Brad Smith had to go off injured, with Mooy introduced in his stead, but the Socceroos breathed a sigh of relief with 12 minutes played when Cahill headed in a brilliant Mathew Leckie cross from the right.
Calmed by their equaliser, Australia began to dictate the play and looked the most likely to score the third goal, with Leckie denied by goalkeeper Alma and Tom Rogic firing narrowly wide of the right-hand post.
Syria occasionally threatened on the break but seemed happy to sit back and hold out for extra time, with Rogic twice denied by Alma and watching another effort deflected inches wide.
Australia were given a boost early in extra time as Mahmoud Al Mawas was given a second booking by replacement referee Ilgiz Tantashev, prompting Postecoglou to throw on Tomi Juric to bolster the attack.
Fellow substitute Nikita Rukavytsya had a volley tipped over the crossbar but Cahill at last found the breakthrough with 11 minutes left, leaping high to head in Kruse's clipped cross from the left and become the first man to reach a half-century of goals for Australia.
Al Soma almost snatched an away-goals win for Syria in the dying moments, rattling the base of Ryan's left-hand post with a fine free-kick, but the Socceroos just held firm to break the hearts of the visitors.
|Jose Morais: The Mourinho acolyte bringing Barcelona to Barnsley|
|Rakitic: More to Chelsea than just Hazard|
|Klopp tactics behind my form – Salah|
|Young: Man United can win Champions League|
|Messi is best but ´not invincible´, says Pedro|
|It´s a red card – Guardiola accepts Delph sending off amid City´s Wigan woe|
|Aguero lashes out at fan as tempers flare after Wigan stun Man City|
|Grigg revels in dousing Manchester City´s fire|
|Wigan Athletic 1 Manchester City 0: Grigg ends Guardiola´s quadruple dream|
|Messi the best but don´t forget Suarez, says Chelsea boss Conte|
|I need a great game – Hazard aiming for Messi heights|
|AFC Champions League Review: El-Arabi´s brace seals Al Wahda´s fate|
|Barcelona boss Valverde tells Chelsea: History counts|
|Schmidt departs as Wolfsburg face relegation fight|
|Madrid, Barca & PSG are Champions League favourites, says Heynckes|
|Former football coach Bennell sentenced to 31 years|
|Hummels wary of ´top European team´ as Bayern prepare for Besiktas|
|WATCH: ´Crazy´ Evra drives to West Ham training in London cab|
|Barca clash a chance for Chelsea ´to do things right´, proclaims Rudiger|
|Lucas claims Tottenham can win Champions League|
|Barcelona tie will not decide Conte´s Chelsea future, says Deco|
|Lewandowski won´t be distracted by Real Madrid rumours|
|Man Utd must not underestimate Sevilla - Navas|
|Iniesta will not be made welcome at Stamford Bridge, warns Azpilicueta|
|Ballack sees ´a big difference´ between Bundesliga and Premier League|
|Betis boss would have preferred to face Madrid´s BBC|
|Chelsea v Barcelona: Messi´s blues against the Blues|
|James leaving Madrid was the best thing, says father|
|He´s looking good – Zidane thrilled with Ronaldo|
|It needs to take 30 seconds – Matic wants quicker VAR|
|Gattuso: My job is to be the players´ nightmare until season´s end|
|I wasn´t good enough – Guardiola reveals Wigan rejection|
|Brazilian derby between Vitoria and Bahia abandoned after red-card frenzy|
|It was crazy, but I like that - Zidane revels in eight-goal Betis thriller|
|Asensio credits Zidane for Madrid´s thrilling Betis comeback|
|Zidane hopeful over Marcelo hamstring injury|
|Bonaventura claims Milan can catch Inter|
|Bravo for Claudio! Guardiola to pick keeper at Wembley|
|Mourinho hoping for reinforcements at Sevilla|
|Real Madrid become first side to score 6,000 goals in LaLiga|
|Real Betis 3 Real Madrid 5: Asensio at the double in LaLiga classic|
|AC Milan 1 Sampdoria 0: Bonaventura makes it 10 unbeaten for Rossoneri|
|Schurrle excited to finally link up with Reus and Gotze|
|Real Madrid defender Marcelo suffers hamstring injury|
|Costa fumes referees ´want to give me a card´, but Simeone plays down penalty row|
|Stoger makes Dortmund history with Gladbach win|
|Championship Review: Leeds fight back for point, Norwich & Ipswich share derby spoils|
|Borussia Monchengladbach 0 Borussia Dortmund 1: Burki unbeatable as Reus returns to haunt Foals|
|FA Cup ´magic´ no surprise to Pochettino after Rochdale thriller|
|Rochdale hero Davies: This is every kid´s dream|
|Atletico Madrid will not stop in pursuit of Barcelona, promises Gameiro|
|´Wrong image´ to blame for VAR confusion in Manchester United´s FA Cup win|
|Rochdale 2 Tottenham 2: Davies denies Kane in FA Cup classic|
|Atletico Madrid 2 Athletic Bilbao 0: Gameiro and Costa settle cagey clash|
|Napoli set club record with another Serie A win|
|Napoli 1 SPAL 0: Allan sends hosts top of Serie A again|
|Allegri allays Higuain injury fears|
|Allegri convinced Juve can get past Spurs|
|Everton fear ´long-term´ injury for Mangala|
|If it isn´t Madrid, it´s Paris - Hazard tires of speculation|
|Torino 0 Juventus 1: Champions win derby but lose Higuain|
|Neymar exit made Barcelona stronger - Ter Stegen|
|Injured Higuain forced off against Torino|
|Jesus confident of returning strong after knee injury|
|We had to change hotels – Ovrebo recalls fury after 2009 Chelsea-Barcelona semi-final|
|Spalletti: Inter board will decide my future|
|Fabregas still wary of timeless Iniesta|
|Liverpool´s 30-goal hero Salah: There´s more to come|
|Valverde: Coutinho dropped for the good of Barcelona|
|Ronaldo better than Neymar? No says Xavi|
|Real Madrid hurt you with nothing – Xavi says PSG loss an injustice|
|Conte: Chelsea need perfect game to stop Messi and Barcelona|
|Inter in a fragile moment, says Spalletti|
|Booed Emery praises PSG´s mental strength|