Two headed goals, one in extra time, by Tim Cahill saw Australia progress 3-2 on aggregate against Syria to the final qualifying tie.
Omar Al Somah gave the civil war-torn nation hope of reaching Russia when he gave them an early lead in Sydney.
But Cahill quickly equalised with the first of his two headed goals before Syria were reduced to 10 men late-on when Mahmoud Al Mawas was sent off.
The 37 year old nodded in Robbie Kruse's cross for the winner and the
Socceroos will now play either Panama, Honduras or the US from the Concacaf section for a place in the finals.