Austria just about kept their hopes of World Cup qualification alive on Sunday night, securing a point against the Republic of Ireland at the Aviva.
The game finished 1-1, as a first-half goal from Austrian defender Martin Hinteregger was cancelled out by a volley from the Republic’s Jonathan Walters in the 85th minute. Austria moved to eight points and they now sit fourth in Group D, level on points with Wales but with an inferior goal difference. They trail both group leaders Serbia and Ireland by four points with four games remaining.
It’s not an ideal situation for Marcel Koller’s men, but it could easily have been so much worse.
In the minutes that followed Ireland’s equalizer, Austria had to survive some scary moments, as the hosts battered their defence with constant pressure. In the 87th minute, Ireland even found the net. During a messy goal-mouth scramble following an Irish corner-kick, Shane Duffy nodded the ball home, colliding with Austrian right-back Stefan Lainer in the process. Referee David Fernández felt that Duffy had fouled Lainer, however, and the ‘goal’ was controversially ruled out.
— Sean Graham (@SPGBETTING) June 12, 2017
Most observers seemed to feel that Duffy’s effort should have stood.
After the game, Austrian defender Sebastien Prodl even admitted that the goal probably should have been given, adding that things would likely have been different if a British official had been in charge of the tie.
“I would attack [the ball] in the same way,” Prodl, who plays his club football with Watford in England’s top tier, told RTÉ. “I think a British referee wouldn’t have whistled but lucky for us he was a Spanish referee and he gave a foul.”
“I think just in the end of the game we were lucky because they put a lot of pressure on, but we should have played cleverer in the end,” added the 29-year-old. “We should have won this game.”
“We were very clever in the first half, I think Ireland had no big chances only shots from the second line. We made it very difficult for them and they got annoyed.”
“In the end it was a fair point but we should have been more clinical.”
Austria play their next qualifier on September 2nd, when they visit Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium to play Wales. On the same day, Ireland face Georgia in Tbilisi.