The Republic of Ireland travelled to the Ernst-Happel-Stadion this evening looking to move to the top of their World Cup qualifying group (for now at least).
Opponents Austria, for their part, were aiming to bounce back from a 3-2 defeat in Serbia last month which left them with four points from three games in what will be a very tight group.
Both sides hit the bar in what was a reasonable open first half – however the tide turned in the second.
James McClean proved to be the hero, collecting a fine ball from Wes Hoolahan before drving the ball through the legs of Ramazan Ozcan for the game’s only goal.
Ireland claim a well-desrved win in Vienna and move to the top of the group, for the time being at least, as they continue on the road to Russia.
Republic of Ireland Player Ratings:
Darren Randolph – 7.5: Had been nervous in Ireland’s recent matches, but not tonight. Randolph was calm, had control of his area, and was rarely troubled as a result.
Seamus Coleman – 7.5: Fantastic tackle on Marko Arnautovic with the Stoke forward bearking down on goal in the first half. A constant threat on the right hand side, and rarely gave his opposite number an inch.
Shane Duffy – 7.5: Much, much better than his last appearance in an Irish shirt. Frustrated Marc Janko at almost every turn once he got the measure of him.
Ciaran Clark – 8: Prevented a goal from Janko with a last-ditch clearace near the end of the first half. The Duffy-Clark axis looked much stronger here than in Moldova.
Robbie Brady – 7: Moved back to left-back in Stephen Ward’s absence, Brady was creative in the attack even if his defensive contribution could perhaps have been better. Hie yellow card means he will miss the match against Wales.
Glenn Whelan – 5: Withdrawn through injury after just over 20 minutes, and hadn’t made much of an impact up to then.
Harry Arter – 7.5: Lively display on his competitive debut. Arter looked at home in the Irish midfield and will surely give O’Neill something to think about in the new year.
Wes Hoolahan – 7: Bordering on anonymous in the first half, but showed the quality he is capable of with a wonderful assist for McClean’s goal. That alone justified his selection.
Jeff Hendrick – 6.5: Somewhat quiet performance from the Burnley midfielder. Had to contend with Alaba and Bumgartlinger on the opposing side, and as a result found space hard to come by.
James McClean – 8.5: Post-Euro 2016, McClean is well on the way towards becoming one of Ireland’s most important players. Fantastic goal and a constant threat throughout.
Jonathan Walters – 7: Asked to lead the line in Shane Long’s absence. Should have done better with a great chance in the first half but was solid if looking a little rusty.
David Meyler (Whelan 24) – 8: Couldn’t have expected to replace Whelan as early as he did, but after a shaky start Meyler grew into the game and protected the defence well. Solid display.
David McGoldrick (Hoolahan 78) – N/A: Through no fault of his own, McGoldrick had nothing to do in the last ten minutes as attacking became less of a priority.
Aiden McGeady (McClean 85) – N/A: Late replacement for McClean, not enough time to make an impact